Imagine an old tree with a large knot on the trunk. That knot grew there naturally—it’s not a dangerous part of the tree, though it may look funny. Your body can grow its own “hard knots” called spurs in your bones under certain circumstances. These bone spurs, however, can be quite uncomfortable under pressure.
Not Just on Boots: How Spurs Develop
A bone spur is any hard, bony projection that grows out of a bone. You can find them anywhere in your body, though typically these develop in places dealing with a lot of stress on your skeleton—which is why they’re fairly common on the feet. Spurs develop when some part of your bone is irritated or under pressure for a while. This can be on the sides of bones, or in between the spaces where two meet and rub against each other in arthritic joints.
Spurs are also associated with chronic heel pain. Plantar fasciitis, the most common source of heel discomfort, can encourage spur growth. The tight, thickened plantar fascia pulls on and stresses the heel where it attaches to the bone, causing you pain. The longer this goes on, the more the band pulls. This irritates the tissue and stimulates the growth of a small, pointed spur. You can also get protrusions on the back of the heel bone. Prolonged and frequent pressure from the stiff backs of shoes and overly tight Achilles tendons can create a somewhat pointed, hard bump called Haglund’s deformity.
Managing the Bony Bumps
Many bone spurs in the lower limbs do not cause painful problems on their own—only when they are under pressure. This is usually the case for heel-based protrusions. Alleviating this discomfort, then, revolves around minimizing the pressure on the bony bumps.
Dr. David Laurino, Dr. Antonius Su, and Dr. Darick Freestone will need to evaluate your foot to determine what caused a bone spur to develop in the first place, as well as the impact it’s having on your foot discomfort or function. This may involve diagnostic images and other tests to “see” the protrusion. Then our team will establish a plan to reduce pressure on the affected bone and relieve your pain.
This might mean changing your footwear. Avoid wearing shoes that will increase or encourage heel pain. Stick to styles with low heels, cushioned soles, and padded backs that don’t squeeze the back of the foot. Using custom orthotics like a heel cup may help as well. These inserts can reduce pressure on the back of the foot. Physical therapy can help relax tightened tissues that are stressing the heel bone, alleviating some pain. If the bony bump causes significant discomfort or presses against a nerve or blood vessel, however, it will need to be removed.
A bone spur doesn’t necessarily cause problems, but if it does, you can do something about it. You don’t have to simply suffer. Let our team at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona help you take care of any bumps on your feet. Make an appointment with us today. You can reach us online, or by calling or faxing: call (480) 981-1800 and fax (480) 981-0229 for our Gilbert office, or call (480) 963-9000 and fax (480) 963-0375 for our Chandler office.