Seeing a bump on top of your foot is an obvious sign that something isn't right. Especially when it hurts! Now, many patients come into our Houston podiatry office complaining about pain on the top of the great toe joint. Because this makes the great toe stiffen, it also makes it impossible for women suffering with this problem to wear their favorite high heels. So, while it may not be a medical emergency, it certainly is a serious fashion concern! Luckily, it's one we can solve with some podiatric detective work. Let's take a closer look!
What is a Bone Spur?
A bone spur just describes a hard bump that forms on top of another bone. Typically, spurs form on top of joints (like those in your big toe) and bone ridges. Plus, these bumps can form wherever you put pressure on your feet, or anywhere you've suffered trauma.
Now, kind of like calluses and corns, bone spurs are just your body's way of insulating itself from this pressure. So, on their own, bony bumps aren't actually a cause for medical concern. However, in addition to making it harder to wear your favorite heels, bone spurs can lead to pain and inflammation in the area. As such, many patients choose to address these bony bumps.
Why a Top of Foot Bone Spur is a Big Problem
When you look at how much the great toe has to extend while wearing a high heel, or even with regular walking or running, it is pretty significant. When you have a bone spur on top of the great toe joint, it acts like a "door stop" and prevents the great toe from extending as much as needed and causes pain. In many cases, you'll feel comfortable with a certain heel height, but pain beyond that. In a high heel, the pain occurs because the shoe is forcing you past the point where the toe can no longer move and continuously jams the joint.
In situations where the spur restricts the joint motion even more, you may feel pain with simply walking or running. This is because of the persistent jamming with each step. This motion can be controlled with a custom orthotic or a turf toe insole and, in turn, address the pain.
When to Treat the Bone Spur, Not the Symptoms
Of course, the bump, lump, or knot that forms on top of the foot in the area of the bone spur can also cause pain and pressure in the shoe. While cushioning with a bunion pad may offer temporary relief, we most commonly address this with a surgical procedure called a chielectomy. Before operating, we begin by taking X-rays or other scans to see the extent of your extra bone growth. That will let us know if you are a candidate for this surgical procedure.
If we do believe a chilectomy is your best bet, we'll book this surgery to remove the bone spur. During the surgery, we also remodel the bone, allowing for more foot motion and less jamming. After your recovery, you won't have a bump on top of your foot anymore. And that will make it more comfortable to wear your favorite shoes again!
Now, the benefit of a chielectomy for bones purs is that there is very little downtime after surgery. In fact, unlike other foot surgeries, you can walk immediately after the procedure. And, most patients will be back to wearing shoes in about 3 weeks! Still, surgery is not for everyone. So let's explore some non-surgical treatment options, too!
Additional Non-Surgical Bone Spur Treatment
As we already reviewed, orthotics and padding can help relieve some of the pain associated with a bony bump on top of your foot. But others options are also available. For some patients, relief is as simple as taking some non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Advil. This will help reduce your pain, but not the bump itself. Of course, we can also recommend shoe changes, so that your foot gear won't rub against the bone spur, increasing pain and inflammation. Plus, we're experts at switching up your lacing techniques in order to get pressure off the top of your foot. (Hint: this technique can also resolve some forms of pain related to running.) But of course, these won't be great options for the patients who come into the office to get back into their high heels! So, if you want to avoid surgery, and painful bone spurs, your best bet may be to prevent them from forming in the first place.
Can you Prevent Bone Spur Formation?
Unfortunately, there's not a guaranteed way to keep bone spurs from forming. But, since spurs form due to pressure, trauma or, in some cases, arthritis, caring for your bone and joint health can reduce your risk. Here are some lifestyle tips that may keep you from developing a painful bump on top of your foot!
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of calcium for bone health
- Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on your feet
- Choose comfortable, supportive shoes and wear custom orthotics regularly if prescribed for another condition
- Quit or avoid smoking to support improved bone health
- Focus on strengthening muscles and keeping tendons loose and stretched to remove pressure from adjacent bones and joints
- Have any foot or ankle injuries, even minor ones, immediately treated to ensure proper healing and reduce trauma to your joints and bones
Now, even with all the care in the world, a bone spur may still form. And, while some people's bodies reabsorb spurs on their own, this is a very unusual outcome. Most bone spurs will keep bothering you unless you seek treatment.
So, if you have been sufffering with a painful bump on top of your foot, it is time to get it checked out. Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate evaluation to see what the right treatment is for you. if you can find relief without surgery, we'll come up with the perfect plan. But if surgery is necessary, we'll get you booked as soon as possible, so that you can be back in your favorite shoes before you know it!