What are bone spurs?

Bone Health, Prevention, Foot, Hand, Joint Pain


Woman running on the road leaning down to rub her foot

You’re reading your X-ray results, and you see,” Enthesophyte seen at the plantar fascia region.”

Of course, you immediately boot up your computer and search the Internet to find out what an “enthesophyte” is. You find that it’s a type of bone spur.

These small bony calcium growths can occur anywhere in the body but are most common in the feet, spine, fingers, hips, knees, and other joints. Since most bone spurs form in response to osteoarthritis, they are more common in people who are 60 years old or older.

But bone spurs also grow in response to overuse and sports-related injuries.

What causes bone spurs?

Bone spurs are your body’s natural response to stress.

When injury, activity, or damage from arthritis causes minuscule cracks in your bones, command cells called osteocytes notice the damage and send bone-building cells (osteoblasts) to fix the cracks and create new bone. This remodeling process is one reason that weight-bearing exercises are necessary to strengthen bones.

But sometimes, that new bone growth happens in the wrong place, resulting in a bone spur.

There are two types of bone spurs.

  • Osteophytes form when there is friction or stress on the edge of the bones or joints.
  • Enthesophytes form when there is friction or pressure in areas where ligaments or tendons attach to bone.

Do bone spurs create other problems?

They can.

Some bone spurs are found during a physical examination or seen on X-rays. These calcium deposits are in an area that does not cause pain or restrict movement.

Other bone spurs push against nerves or rub against other bones as they grow. They may cause pain, interfere with movement, or cause joint stiffness.

How are bone spurs treated?

There are some things that you can do on your own to alleviate the pain and pressure of bone spurs.

  • Control inflammation. Use ice, rest, and elevation to alleviate swelling and inflammation near a bone spur.
  • Stretch to relieve and ease pressure on soft tissues.
  • Talk to your health care provider about vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium supplements. Your body needs these vitamins and minerals for healthy joints. Ask your health care provider to check your vitamin D level.

If bone spurs are causing pain and limiting your movement, they may require surgical removal.

Can I prevent bone spurs?

You may not be able to prevent all bone spurs, especially as you grow older. But there are some things you can do to decrease your risk.

When should I see an orthopedic specialist for treatment?

If you experience pain or a loss of movement, call Bone & Joint and make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist.

Bone & Joint’s team of orthopedic providers are experts in body mechanics and movement. Whether you need diagnostic testing, physical therapy, or surgery, Bone & Joint’s team of orthopedic providers has the skills you need to feel better and get back to your life.


Check out other articles published in April 2021:

How do digital devices affect a child’s orthopedic health?
Shake up your exercise routine with a few dance moves
Injured? Don't wait. Visit Bone & Joint Walk-In Care
Bone & Joint offers no-interest financing

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