A bone spur is an excess growth of bone, usually smooth rather than sharp as the name suggests, that grows over an area of normal bone. Bone spurs can cause damage, inflammation, discomfort, or pain when they cause friction by rubbing against skin, ligaments, muscle, or nerves. Many people don’t seek treatment because they don’t experience any symptoms, but for those who do notice symptoms over time, there are both non-surgical and surgical treatments available depending on how advanced the bone spur is.
Depending on the area where the bone spur occurs, along with other factors like level of discomfort and accompanying symptoms, treatment may be directed toward treating the bone spur itself, the symptoms it’s causing, or the cause of the spur. For example, where a spur has formed near a joint as a result of too much stress from obesity, or along with osteoarthritis, you may be advised to lose excess weight; this can help ease pressure contributing to the spur’s growth.
In some cases, your doctor may want to focus on treating the symptoms you experience because of the spur: inflammation, stiffness, limited range of motion, aching, or tenderness, etc. For spurs that have caused mild to moderate symptoms, treatment may be as simple as over the counter pain relievers combined with rest and regular stretching or icing. If the ankles or feet are affected, switching to more supportive footwear or getting orthotics can help. For moderate to more painful cases, a corticosteroid injection to the area may be recommended.
In more serious cases – those that affect the nerves, are causing severe pain, leading to physical deformity, or that limit your range of motion – surgical intervention may be needed to treat the spur itself. They can be removed and any surrounding and related issues, such as bunions or calluses, can be treated at the same time.