The human body is fairly self-reliant, and if it can take care of a problem on its own, it will. Obviously, external help is sometimes required, but your body is quite adept at fixing itself, and a clear example can be found from your skeletal system. Broken bones have an impressive ability to heal. The process may produce unwanted bone spurs, but your bone tissue will ultimately become functional again.
Excess Bone Tissue
A spur is simply a growth that develops on normal bone as the body repairs itself by building extra bone tissue. The term “spur” may cause you to think of something sharp, but these growths are typically smooth. In spite of this, bone spurs can lead to excess wear and tear, or even pain, if they rub or press against other bones or such soft tissue as tendons, ligaments, or nerves.
Tight ligaments, poorly-fitting shoes, stress from activities like running and dancing, and pressure from excessive weight can all lead to the formation of a bone spur in your foot. A common example of this happens with plantar fasciitis. In this condition, the band of tissue that lines the bottom of your foot (plantar fascia) becomes stressed and pulls on the heel. As your body attempts to heal itself, extra bone, also known as a heel spur, can form on the bottom of your heel.
Another common condition that results due to a bone spur is referred to as a “pump bump” and results from ill-fitting footwear. When there is pressure on the back of your heel from wearing shoes that are too tight on a frequent basis, a bony bump will develop on the back of the heel bone. This is called a pump bump because it is frequently seen in women patients who wear high heels.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
A bone spur, in and of itself, may not have any symptoms. Left to its own devices, it essentially feels like any other bone in your body. They only become noticeable when they are paired with some other tissue, like another bone or a tendon. When they rub against other parts, it can lead to a breakdown of the softer tissue over time. This results in tearing, swelling, and pain, but a bony growth in your foot can also cause corns and calluses.
An X-ray will show a bone spur, but most are benign, and doctors do not typically use the test to see if there is one unless a problem exists. When there is pain or problems that are normally associated with bone spurs, like arthritis, we can check to see if that is the root cause.
When they are not causing any pain or damaging other tissues, extra bone growths do not need to be treated. Conservative treatment methods that can help ease the symptoms of a problematic bone growth include icing, resting, stretching, and taking any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs we advise. The use of orthotics or extra padding can be useful in helping to alieviate any pain and discomfort. In rare cases, surgery may be used to remove the extra bone.
Treatment methods used to prevent bone spurs by targeting their causes include losing weight to decrease the amount of pressure on the joints and stretching such areas as the heel cord and bottom of your foot. Of you make an appointment with our practice when you are first experiencing plantar fasciitis pain, we can help you prevent a spur from forming.
Shenandoah Podiatry is here for you when you have a difficult bone spur that is causing pain and discomfort. Schedule an appointment with our Roanoke office at (540) 904-1458. You can also use our online form and we will get you in so you can find the relief that you need.