By Rehan Iqbal
If you've ever walked for short distances and felt a tremendous, shooting pain at the bottom of your foot, you might be suffering from a condition known as bone spurs. Bone spurs can happen to anyone at any age, although they are more common in older adults with osteoarthritis. Bone spurs are a common condition, affecting around 38% of the population. Below, you'll find all the information you'll need to know more about bone spurs, its causes, and what can be done to treat this painful condition.
What Are Bone Spurs?
If you know what spurs on a boot are, then it might be easier to imagine what a bone spur is. Just like spurs stick out of the side of a boot, so too do bone spurs develop on the sides of the bone.
Bone spurs are small growths that are also known as osteophytes. However, their shape is unlike that of a spur, since they are smooth and round.
The spurs themselves aren't usually a cause of pain. However, when the spur begins to compress on surrounding tissues and nerves, this then leads to greater levels of pain. Bone spurs can develop on a number of different areas of the body, including:
Anywhere where there might be continuous or repeated contact of two bones together is breeding grounds for bone spurs.
What Causes Bone Spurs?
The most common cause of bone spurs is aging. As the body gets older, the ligaments in between the joints start to wear away. To compensate for the loss of ligaments, the body begins to thicken the ligaments, attempting to create a solid bond between two joints.
Unfortunately, this rarely, if ever, keep the ligaments from completely deteriorating, and leads to the development of flecks of bone on the ligaments.
These bone fragments then come together to form bone spurs around the joints. Unfortunately, these bone spurs then press on the surrounding nerves and tissues.
Symptoms of Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are, fortunately, not a dangerous condition. They are, however, dangerous if the growths on your foot or other bone spurs in the body are due to bone cancer, not natural aging or wear and tear.
Only a doctor can provide you with solid answers about whether or not your bone spurs are a sign of something more serious. Fortunately, most bone spurs are common and come with non-life threatening symptoms.
Symptoms of bone spurs that are non-life threatening include:
If you're experiencing these symptoms, it might a sign to visit a doctor and check for bone spurs. For bone spurs in the feet, you might feel pain radiating from the top of the foot to the shins. You might also feel pain from your heel radiating all the way up your leg to your buttocks.
What Causes Bone Spurs in the Feet?
Bone spurs can develop in different areas of the body. However, they are most commonly found in areas of the body where arthritis has worn away the ligaments that hold the bone together to the tissue. As time progresses, these tissues begin to form bone over them, covering them and leading to bone spurs.
Unless you have mobility issues, there's virtually not a single day where you don't use your feet for movement. While this is good news for younger people, this can be bad news for adults that love to walk but are now plagued with bone spurs.
It can be difficult to prevent bone spurs, since there's no time for the foot to recover from arthritis or prevent wear and tear injuries. The foot is also quite prone to injuries, such as sprained ankles, making it more likely to develop bone spurs in the future.
Can I Prevent Bone Spurs?
Bone spurs also have a number of other causes not attributed to arthritis and break-down of the ligaments. Some of the many causes of bone spurs in the feet besides arthritis include:
You can address every single one of these issues head on to prevent bone spurs forming on the foot. For instance, you can lose weight or try to wear more ergonomic shoes that reduce pressure on your feet. This helps reduce pain and weight on the foot, decreasing the chances of developing bone spurs.
Other times, bone spurs on the foot are nothing short of hereditary. In these instances, take the time to visit a specialist who can help improve your bone spurs, though they might be unpreventable.
Most bone spurs on the foot can be left without treatment, since they do not cause pain. These bone spurs on the foot are only detected after a routine X-ray or MRI scan for another condition. However, they can be treated using lifestyle changes (such as improving diet and exercising), resting and icing the foot, and taking medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol to help deal with painful bone spurs.