General Health Information

What Are Bone Spurs and What Causes Them?


For anyone who has experienced a bone spur, especially in the heel area of the foot, you know how painful they can be. However, many people with bone spurs don’t even know they have one until they grow large enough to push against other tissue.

Bone spurs are simply 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 often occur in areas of the body such as the hands, feet, hips, spine, shoulders and knees. Although the name “spur” suggests something sharp, this extra bone growth is usually smooth and may or may not cause any symptoms. Over time however, 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.

The cause of bone spurs can be attributed to a number of conditions, however they’re usually the result of the body attempting to repair or overcome some type of injury by producing extra bone. Often the result of 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 family history or genetics.

Best way to treat bone spurs

Treatment for bone spurs will typically depend on the severity of the pain being experienced. For mild pain where the spur is only moderately impacting surrounding tissue, doctors may recommend anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the bone spur. In some cases, doctors may recommend physical therapy to help increase joint motion and strengthen surrounding muscles, which may help alleviate some symptoms. In cases where the bone spur is causing more severe pain, doctors may recommend treatment with cortisone injection or by removing the spur through surgery to alleviate any further irritation. Bone spurs can reoccur 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 and it’s causing pain or discomfort, consult with your doctor.