Bone Spurs Are a Thorny Problem
If you wonder what that stabbing pain is in your heel, it may be a bone spur.
Bone spur is a general term used to describe a knobby, abnormal bone growth. Bone
spurs are also known as osteophytes. The growth is usually small and often unnoticed. Scientists
believe bone spurs happen because of osteoarthritis or an excess pull of a ligament
or tendon. They may also occur when the body tries to heal itself after a trauma by
replacing bone. Although bone spurs can form on any bone, they often happen on joints
where 2 bones come together, or where ligaments or tendons attach to bones. They tend
to develop on the neck, shoulders, elbows, spine, hips, knees, and heels. Spurs are
not painful. But they can cause pain if they rub on a nerve or other tissue.
Older adults are more prone to bone spurs. Spurs can also happen in young athletes
or dancers because of the added stress on their muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Pain
may happen while the spur is forming. But it can settle down. In some cases, pain
may continue and get in the way of physical activity.
These are reasons to see your healthcare provider about a bone spur:
You find an abnormal growth.
You have pain associated with the growth.
You have pain or weakness at a joint.
You have a hard time walking because of pain in the knees or heel.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe rest, anti-inflammatory medicines, or physical
therapy if the spur is causing problems for you. These noninvasive treatments often
are effective in treating the bone spur.
In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. You may need it if the spur and resulting
inflammation are creating serious physical problems like prohibiting walking, and
the spur is not responding to other forms of treatment.