Before we get into the specific causes of bone spurs, let’s first take a look at what bone spurs are. Bone spurs are outgrowths of bone which are most often found in and around joints.
A bone spur is essentially “extra bone” growth which has formed on top of normal bone.
Bone spurs typically occur in areas of the body such as the knees, feet, hips, spine, shoulders and hands. Although the name “spur” suggests something sharp, bone spurs are usually smooth and may or may not cause any symptoms.
Over time, a bone spur may continue to grow, leading to painful irritation of surrounding soft tissue like tendons, ligaments or nerves. Bone spurs tend to be most painful at the bottom of the heel due to the pressure of body weight.
Bone spurs can be caused by a variety of factors, but they’re usually the result of the body attempting to overcome and repair some type of injury by producing excess bone. This can be as simple as putting extra pressure or continued stress on the bone or joints over an extended period of time.
A bone spur can occur when there has been trauma to a joint, repeated excessive use of a joint, arthritis, or even tendonitis. In some cases, a bone spur can simply be the result of genetics. You can thank grandma or grandpa for that one.
Treatment for bone spurs generally depends on the severity of the pain being experienced. If pain is mild, doctors may recommend medication to reduce the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the bone spur (anti-inflammatory drugs). In some cases, doctors may recommend physical therapy to help increase joint motion and strengthen surrounding muscles, which may help alleviate some symptoms.
Bone spurs which are causing more severe pain may either be treated by cortisone injection or by surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the bone spur altogether and alleviate any associated irritation. Bone spurs may reoccur sometime after surgery (2 to 3 years) if the initial cause of the spur is not found and corrected.
If you suspect you may have a bone spur, consult with your doctor.