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Questions and Answers About Bone Spurs

What is a bone spur?

A bone spur is simply extra bone that grows out of existing bone. In your feet, bone spurs are most common in the heel but can also form in toe joints and the ankle joints. The word “spur” conjures up images of cowboy boots with sharp metal teeth attached to them, but bone spurs are not necessarily sharp. They can, however, “bite” into surrounding structures.

What causes bone spurs?

Bone spurs form for several reasons. First, they are the body’s response to long-term stress – for example, pressure from shoes that are too tight, the constant pounding of running on hard surfaces or having to bear too much weight. Second, spurs can be a simple part of the aging process. Finally, bone spurs are sometimes a reaction to the inflammation of osteoarthritis and the breakdown of protective cartilage between joints.


What problems do they cause?
A bone spur can exist without causing any problems at all – for one reason or another; a person may just never feel it. Others, however, feel a great deal of pain. A bone spur may dig into neighboring tissue, causing it to tear or break down over time. It may also cause pain by rubbing into nerves or other bones.


Will they go away by themselves?

No. Once they form, they’re there to stay.

How are bone spurs treated?

You can relieve the pain of bone spurs with a combination of approaches including rest, icing, stretching, physical therapy, changes in footwear, and custom orthotics.

How do you know if you have a bone spur?

Heel pain, pain at the base of the big toe, difficulty moving any of the joints in your feet or ankles, and weakness or numbness anywhere in the feet or ankles are all possible signs of bone spurs. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, our board-certified podiatrist at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center, can get to the bottom of your foot pain, giving you an accurate diagnosis and a proper treatment plan. Call us with your questions or concerns at (703) 996-3000 for an appointment at our office in Centreville (Fairfax County), Virginia.

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