Dr. Timothy Young, a Board-certified Foot Surgeon discusses bone spurs in the foot: Osteophytes

Dr. Timothy Young, a Board-certified Foot Surgeon discusses bone spurs in the foot: Osteophytes

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Dr. Timothy Young
, a Board-certified Foot Surgeon discusses bone spurs in the foot: Osteophytes

Defining Osteophytes: Osteophytes, a subset of bone spurs, are characterized by the outgrowth of new bone on the margins of a synovial joint. They often develop in response to joint degeneration and are associated with conditions like osteoarthritis.

Locations of Foot Osteophytes:

1. Joints: Osteophytes often form on the margins of joints of the foot, impacting movement and causing pain.

2. Edges of Bones: They may also develop along the edges of bones, affecting the alignment of joints.

Causes and Risk Factors:

1. Joint Degeneration: Osteoarthritis, a common cause of bone spurs, leads to the breakdown of cartilage and prompts the body to form osteophytes.

2. Repetitive Stress: Continuous mechanical stress on specific areas of the foot, often due to poor biomechanics or ill-fitting footwear, can contribute to the development of bone spurs. This often involves the force of gravity on weight-bearing joints. A good example would be the ankle joint.

Symptoms and Diagnosis:

1. Pain: Persistent pain in the affected area, especially during movement or weight-bearing activities.

2. Reduced Range of Motion: Difficulty moving the affected joint due to the presence of bone spurs.

3. Visible Bumps: In some cases, visible or palpable bumps may be present, indicating the presence of bone spurs. A good example this would be a bump on the top the midfoot that is due to large osteophytes in this location.

4. X-rays and ultrasound: x-rays and ultrasound can show the osteophytes. It is usually not necessary to do an MRI or CT scan.

Treatment Options:

1. Conservative Measures:

  • Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.).
  • Orthotic inserts and supportive footwear.

2. Physical Therapy:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Therapeutic modalities to alleviate pain and inflammation.

3. Medications:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain management.

4. Injections: injections can deliver medication such as Supartz which is a synthetic joint lubricant. This was originally FDA approved for the knee but is now used throughout the body. For the foot and ankle, it is most commonly used in the ankle joint and the great toe joint. Cortisone is not used as often, since repetitive use can weaken the existing Cartledge and adjacent joint capsule.

5. Surgical Intervention:

  • In severe cases, surgical removal of the bone spur may be considered, or in some cases the joint can be stabilized by fusing it or placing an implant in the joint.

Conclusion:

Bone spurs and osteophytes in the foot can present challenges, but with proper understanding and timely intervention, individuals can manage their symptoms effectively. If you suspect the presence of bone spurs in your foot, please contact our clinic and we can review your options.

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