Your body has an array of various tools and defensive mechanisms it uses for protection. In many cases, these are involuntary and just happen in response to some kind of health threat or stimulus. They include things like blisters, calluses, and inflammation.
In the same way that these respective bodily responses are intended to protect with additional cushioning, so too does your body use calcium deposits to build up and defend bone tissue. This can happen on any bone, but bone spurs in feet tend to be more common than other areas of the body.
Bone Spur Basics
When a particular area is exposed to excessive pressure or forces (especially on a regular basis), the body will try to reinforce a bone and begin making calcium deposits. Over time, these deposits build up until they become what is known as a bone spur. The size of bone spurs can vary, with some extending out beyond half an inch past the surface of the existing bone.
It is very possible to have developed a bone spur and not be aware of it unless the spur is digging into soft tissue or hitting another bone. If it helps, you can think of your ability to feel these formations as being the same as your ability to actually feel your normal bones. Since bone has little sensation, you may first see a bone spur depending on its size and location.
With regards to location, your feet are prime targets for bone spur development. The lower limbs consistently face enough force for the body to begin a calcium deposit process. Of course, your feet are rather durable and are usually well-equipped to handle the tremendous force loads placed upon them. When there are physical abnormalities or unusual gait patterns, normal force load distribution can be affected. This can lead to excessive pressure in certain parts of the feet.
The heel and foot joints are particularly susceptible to bone spurs. There are two points on the heel where spurs typically develop – the underside and back. Heel spurs on the bottom of the bone often arise in conjunction with plantar fasciitis. The repetitive and excessive tugging from the plantar fascia will result in a bone spur where the facia connects to the heel bone. Spurs on the back of the heel are known as Haglund’s deformity (or “pump bump”) and can be more of a problem than those on the bottom. There is ample padding on the bottom of the foot, but the back of the heel is rather exposed. Certain shoes—like pumps or stilettos that have curved backs—can be rather irritating.
Spurs that develop in joints can exacerbate other conditions. A prime example of this is hallux limitus. This condition is marked by restricted movement of the big toe from a spur buildup around the joint. The bigger the spur, the stiffer the joint becomes.
Treatment for Bone Spurs in Feet
When it comes to bone spur treatment, nonsurgical methods are effective for a majority of cases. This kind of care includes:
- Changing shoes
- Orthotic devices and shoe inserts
- Physical therapy and protective padding
Those options are successful for most cases, but surgery may be necessary in advanced cases. Our first goal is always to find successful resolution for foot and ankle issues through conservative treatment.
Preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing spurs include wearing appropriate shoes for physical activities, easing into new running and workout programs, warming up and stretching prior to physical activity, and simply choosing footwear that fits correctly.
For additional information on bone spurs in the lower limbs, or any of the foot care services we provide, give us a call at (317) 545-0505. You can also contact us online today.