Foot bone spurs

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

A bone spur (osteophyte) is a bony growth that comes about due to osteoarthritis. While mostly asymptomatic, osteophytes can cause pain if they irritate soft tissues such as ligaments or tendons. Common places for bone spurs to develop include the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet.

A bone spur forms as the bone tries to repair itself by building extra bone.

In one situation, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) can become injured or inflamed and pull on the heel. This is called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs most often as a result of tight ligaments, excessive activity, arch abnormalities, tight Achilles tendon, or obesity. As the bone tries to mend, a bone spur can form on the bottom of the heel. Plantar fasciitis is commonly thought of as being caused by a heel spur, but research has found that this is not the case. On X-ray, heel spurs are seen commonly both in people with and without plantar fasciitis.

The most common complaint is pain in the bottom of the heel, usually worse in the morning and improving as the day goes on. By the end of the day the pain returns.

Pressure at the back of the heel from wearing shoes that are too tight can cause a bone spur on the back of the heel. This is sometimes called a "pump bump" because it is often seen in women who wear high heels.

Hallux rigidus, or big toe arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in the foot. A bone spur in the big toe is what causes the rigidness of the toe joint.

The most common symptom is pain around the base of the big toe. This pain is made worse with activities such as running or jumping. Often wearing firm soled shoes that limit motion at the base of the big toe will help relieve symptoms.

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