A bone spur is an outgrowth of bone that can occur along the edges of a bone. It is also called an osteophyte. Bone spurs can form in any bone but are most commonly found in joints, where two or more bones come together. They also occur where muscles, ligaments, or tendons attach to the bone.
Some of the most common parts of the body affected by bone spurs are the neck (cervical spine), low back (lumbar spine), shoulder, hip, knee, and heel. Other areas may be affected as well, including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), hands, wrists, and feet (the top of the foot [midfoot], arch of the foot, or toes).
Bone spurs typically occur because of continued stress or rubbing of a bone for a prolonged period of time. This can be due to osteoarthritis or inflammation such as tendinitis. Normally there is a layer of cartilage along the edges of bones where they come together to form a joint. With osteoarthritis, this cartilage layer becomes worn away, and the bones can rub directly against each other. New bone forms in response to the stress or inflammation. It is the bone’s method of trying to stabilize or protect itself.
There are other medical conditions that are commonly associated with bone spurs. These include a condition known as plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the fascia or connective tissue on the bottom of the foot where it attaches to the heel bone or calcaneus. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) and ankylosing spondylitis are both inflammatory disorders that affect the body’s ligaments and cause bone spurs in the spine.