Bone spurs (osteophytes) are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones. They often form where bones meet each other — in other words, in your joints. They are a very common foot problem, though they occur in other places, too, such as on the bones of your spine.
The main cause of bone spurs is the joint damage associated with osteoarthritis. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones, your body attempts to repair the loss by creating bone spurs near the damaged area. However, most bone spurs cause no symptoms and may go undetected for years. They may not require treatment. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion in the joint affected.
Heel spurs are growths of bone on the heel. They occur when the plantar fascia (the band of tissue that extends from the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot) pulls on its attachment to the heel bone. This area of the heel later calcifies to form a spur.
Treatments for spurs include anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, corrective shoes, and/or orthotics (shoe inserts). Surgery may be needed if spurring around the joint becomes severe or leads to recurrent pain from persistent corns.
You should consult a specialist if you have pain or swelling in one or more joints, or if you have difficulty moving a joint. Early treatment can help prevent or slow further joint damage.