Causes and treatment of bone spurs on the feet. (2023)

Abone spore—or osteophyte— is an abnormal bone growth that occurs when the body is trying to fix a problem. Bone spurs can appear on any bone, but are more common in high-wear areas like the feet.

As the cartilage wears away, the bone is remodeled to accommodate the increased physiological stress in that area. The initial bone remodeling reduces the concentration of stress in the area and makes the transfer of stress from one tissue to another as smooth as possible.

As the bone spur grows, it can irritate surrounding tissues, causing pain and inflammation.

Causes and treatment of bone spurs on the feet. (1)

Bone Spur Overview

Causes of bone spurs on the feet

Any situation that creates too much friction on the foot can lead to bone spurs. If the arch of your foot is higher or lower than normal, you may be at even higher risk of developing bone spurs, especially if you are a runner or often wear tight shoes.

Bone spurs usually form when pressure or stress is applied to a bone on a regular basis over a period of time. Over time, the cartilage that protects the bone can break down. In response, your body tries to repair the damage by building new bone in the damaged area.

Calcium, the main component of bones, can grow and help fill the affected area. This growth is called a bone spur, and it can be more harmful than helpful.

Different types of bone spurs in the feet.

Bone spurs are bone spurs that grow from one of the joints on top of the metatarsus.tarsal spurs, while bone spurs that grow on the inside or outside of the toe are calledtoe spur.

You are more likely to develop bone spurs in your foot if you have a condition that causes local inflammation, such as:degenerative arthritisotendinitis. These diseases become more common with age. The inflammatory response that occurs when the cartilage or tendons of the foot are damaged leads to bone remodeling and the formation of bony excrescences.

Other risk factors for bone spurs in the foot include:

  • Wear tight-fitting shoes, especially those that squeeze your toes or midfoot.
  • infections
  • Older
  • overweight or obese
  • tense Achilles strain
  • Chronic Plantar Fasciitis
  • Charcot foot, a condition that causes weakness in the bones of the foot due to nerve damage (may or may not be due to diabetes)

Signs of bone spurs in the feet.

Foot pain is the most common first sign of a bone spur in the foot, but symptoms vary depending on the location and size of the bone spur.


A small deformity or bump may form on the top of the toes along the joints. A bone spur can also limit mobility in the affected toe and lead to stiffness in the big toe.rigid hallux, making walking difficult.

Symptoms of hallux rigidus include:

  • Joint pain when you are active, especially when you push off your toes while walking
  • swelling around the joint
  • A bump, such as a bunion or callus, that develops on the top of the foot
  • Stiffness of the big toe and inability to bend it up or down

Symptoms of Arthritis of the Big Toe (Hallux Rigidus)


A bone spur that develops in the midfoot is called a tarsal hump and probably arises from:

  • Arthritis
  • ChronicPlantarfas
  • Tight or ill-fittingshoesfor many years

Bone spurs in the metatarsal area usually form on the top of the foot, some may look like bumps or calluses. This bony growth can become painful if it becomes inflamed or rubs against the surrounding neurovascular structures in the foot.

How to choose the right footwear


SpurIt occurs on the bottom of the foot and can feel like a dull or stabbing pain when walking or standing for a long period of time. Sometimes the discomfort of heel spurs can cause you to change your gait, which could exacerbate structural problems in your foot.

Risk factors for a heel spur include:

  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Has a history of wearing ill-fitting shoes
  • History of a foot injury.

An overview of heel spurs

To diagnose

Most foot bone spurs are painless and are discovered incidentally in other medical conditions. If you report foot pain, your doctor, usually a general practitioner, podiatrist, or orthopedist, will suggest an X-ray.

A correct diagnosis is made based on your clinical symptoms and imaging. Bone spurs are detected by radiological tests, such as:

  • plain radiographs
  • ultrasound images
  • magnetic resonance
  • computed tomography
  • myelogram

X-rays are the most widely used imaging technique to detect bone spurs. Additional imaging may be required if the x-ray is inconclusive or shows more damage than expected.


Treatment for your bone spur will depend on the size and location of the bone spur, as well as the symptoms it is causing. If you have a painless lump on your foot that is diagnosed as a bone spur, the bone spur is usually not treated.

Losing weight can help relieve pressure on your foot and bone spurs and reduce or eliminate discomfort.

Common treatments for bone spurs include:

  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications:Because foot pain is the most common symptom of a bone spur, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are often the first choice to treat pain and inflammation.
  • Rest and Ice:This can also help with pain and inflammation.
  • Cortisone infection:When over-the-counter medications, rest, and ice don't help reduce pain and inflammation, a cortisone shot can help.
  • Physical therapy:This can help strengthen the muscles and tendons in the weakened area and increase joint mobility. Stretching and wearing special padding or orthotics can also help relieve pressure on the bone spur.

If conservative measures do not relieve pain or clinical imaging shows that the bone spur is damaging the joint or joint space, surgery may be suggested. Depending on the extent of your injury, surgery can range from simply removing the bone spur (cheilectomy), which can be performed in minutes, up to total joint replacement and arthroplasty.

What you should know about big toe spur surgery (cheilectomy).

Your orthopedic surgeon may remove bone spurs as part of another surgery, such as bunion surgery, if they think the bone spurs are contributing to your pain. This possibility should be discussed with you prior to the operation.


Untreated bone spurs in the foot can damage the joint and the tissues surrounding the joint space. To avoid surgery, it's best to use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation. It's also important to find out the underlying cause of your foot pain. Treating the underlying causes of your bone spur can help limit further damage and bone spur formation.

It is very important to treat a painful bone spur as soon as possible. If the spur persists or worsens, it can lead to permanent weakness or deformity, especially if the bulge compresses the surrounding neurovascular structures.

A word from VeryWell

Bone spurs can be extremely painful and can limit your mobility or interfere with your daily life. Early treatment can prevent this. Most bone spurs can be treated with conservative measures such as rest, ice, braces, physical therapy, and the use of anti-inflammatory medications.

If you are experiencing foot pain and suspect you may have a bone spur, see a doctor to avoid serious complications.

5 fuentes

Verywell Health uses only quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourspublishing processto learn more about how we check the facts and make sure our content is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Kirkpatrick J, Yassaie O, Mirjalili SA.The plantar heel spur: a review of the anatomy, histology, etiology, and important relationships.J Anat. 2017;230(6):743-751. doi:10.1111/joa.12607

  2. Thurston A.J.Bone Spurs: Mechanism of Formation of Different Shapes Based on Observations in Dupuytren's Diathesis.ANZ J Surgery. 2002 April; 72 (4): 290-3. doi:10.1046/j.1445-2197.2002.02373

  3. American College of Rheumatology.Radiological approach to arthritis.

  4. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.Stiff toe, big helux.

  5. Finzel S , Sahinbegovic E , Kocijan R , Engelke K , Englbrecht M , Schett G .The formation of an inflammatory bone spur in psoriatic arthritis differs from the formation of a bone spur in osteoarthritis of the hand..Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 Nov;66(11):2968-75. doi:10.1002/art.38794

Causes and treatment of bone spurs on the feet. (2)

VonShamard Charles, MD, MPH
Shamard Charles, MD, MPH is a public health physician and journalist. He has held positions at major news networks such as NBC, covering public health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health research and medical treatments.

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