Baseball season has barely begun, but Yankee fans have already had to say goodbye to first baseman Greg Bird - again. Bird missed much of his first season from a shoulder injury, and last year we saw him sidelined for 4 months due to an ankle injury. After complaining of increasing soreness in that same ankle, Bird was diagnosed with a broken bone spur at the end of March.
Understanding bone spurs
What is this mysterious “spur” that’s putting Bird out for at least the next 6-8 weeks? Well, it helps to think about the very first time you ever heard the word “spur.” If you ever dressed up as a cowboy or cowgirl as a kid, your boots probably sported spurs - those spiked metal wheels that hooked onto your boots, designed to be kicked into a horse’s flank and get him to giddy-up.
Much like a cowboy’s spur sticks out from his boots, a bone spur is a piece of bone that juts out from a bone. Boot spurs have a distinct function, but bone spurs are just a pain.
Bone spurs - in medicine we call them osteophytes - are growths that develop because of constant pressure on a bone. They can occur on any bone in the body, but they’re pretty common in the foot, especially the heel and the big toe. At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center in Howell, NJ, we see heel spurs and ankle spurs in athletes who are constantly subjecting their lower limbs to the pressures of their sport. But they can happen to anyone.
Treatment for bone spurs
In some cases, our patients aren’t at all bothered by a bone spur. In Greg Bird’s case, a bone spur on his ankle actually broke off, causing all sorts of inflammation. He’ll have ankle surgery to remove the offending piece of bone.
If your bone spur causes constant pain and inflammation, surgery may be an option, but it wouldn’t be the first. Our podiatrists, Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, and Dr. Joseph Saka have many tools with which to approach the problem before considering surgery:
- Changes in footwear can provide needed room
- Custom orthotics can relieve pressure
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Corticosteroid injections.
Expert diagnosis in Monmouth County
If you’ve got nagging foot or ankle pain, it might originate from a bone spur. Count on the experience of our board-certified podiatrists to offer you the best diagnosis and prompt, caring treatment of your pain. Give us a call at (732) 905-1110 or make an appointment online.