When you hear the term bone spur, you might envision something sharp and prickly, but in all actuality, a bone spur is nothing more than just extra bone, a bony growth formed on normal bone. Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, can cause pain if they rub on other bones or surrounding soft tissues. They are typically found in the spine, the shoulder, the hands, hips, knees and feet.
These bone spurs develop as the body repairs itself by building extra bone. Bone spurs usually form due to pressure, rubbing, or stress that goes on for a significant period of time. Some bone spurs form as part of the aging process. As we get older, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones within our joints begins to wear and break down, contributing to a condition known as osteoarthritis. The discs that cushion the bones of the spine may also break down with age. Over a period of time, this can produce pain and swelling, as well as bone spurs that form along the edges of the joints. When related to the aging process, bone spurs are most common in the joints of the spine and of the feet.
When bone spurs form in the feet, this can be in response to many factors. Activities such as dancing and running that put extra stress on the feet, being overweight, or wearing poorly fitting shoes can contribute to the formation of bone spurs. The long ligament that is on the bottom of the foot can become tight and begin to pull on the heel, creating inflammation of that ligament. As the bone begins to heal itself, the spur can form on the bottom of the heel. This is known as a heel spur. Shoes that are too tight, such as high heels, can contribute to bone spurs in the heel.
Bone spurs are frequently seen in the shoulder, too. Since your shoulder is complex and can move in many directions, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in that area can wear against each other. Bone spurs can form as tendons rub on the bones. As a result, this area can become stiff, swollen, inflamed, weak, or painful.
Sometimes, there can be a tear in the tendon.