Growth doesn’t always mean getting taller or thicker evenly. Sometimes a single area grows a little more than everything else. When this happens on trees, you get odd bulges or scars. In your body, you get bone spurs. The bump isn’t like a tumor—it’s not going to grow out of control. It can, however, cause some discomfort and difficultly in your lower limbs.
Growing Under Pressure
Bone spurs are growths of extra bone tissue. Typically they develop where the tissue is strained for an extended period of time. They can grow on any bone, but most frequently they appear around joints or tightened tendons. Spurs are frequently harmless, but when they rub against other structures, like muscles or connectors, or even other bones, they can cause irritation. If they pinch nerves or blood vessels, they can cause much worse damage. Nerve pain and circulation issues can weaken the foot and make it easier for ulcers to develop.
What you feel when you develop bone spurs depends on where in your foot they’re located and what other tissues are affected. Usually there’s a gradual increase of irritation in that area. A hard bump may appear under your skin. In your joints, your movement might be restricted. At the back of the heel, it can cause Achilles tendinitis. Spurs under the heel are associated with chronic plantar fasciitis, so your foot will most likely already be uncomfortable. These problems with extra bone do not get better on their own and will need targeted treatment for relief.
Eliminating the Discomfort
The doctors at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle will need to take X-rays to determine if your discomfort is related to bone spurs or not. Not all growths are easy to see or properly identify from outside the foot. Once the experts have determined that you have a spur causing your discomfort, they can begin to work with you to manage the symptoms.
Relieving pressure on the growth and reducing inflammation helps with the pain. You’ll also need to investigate and treat the problem that caused the spurs in the first place. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to help lower the irritation and eliminate some of the discomfort. We may also recommend you change your shoes or add orthotics to relieve pressure on the affected area, or limit the motion in a problematic joint. This can also help correct or adjust the issue that originally caused the growth. If the pain is persistent, or the growth is pressing against a nerve, you may need to have it shaved down or cut out surgically.
Bone spurs are usually harmless and don’t often grow large enough to cause additional problems in your feet and ankles. If the spurs get too large or pointed, however, they can interfere with a joint’s movement, press against nerves and blood vessels, and irritate tendons or muscles. If you notice bumps on your lower limbs, or are having trouble with increased pain in any area, contact NorthPointe Foot & Ankle for an appointment or more information. Call our Berkley office at (248) 545-0100 or visit the online contact page to reach us.