A bone spur is a growth of extra bone where two or more bones meet that forms as the body tries to repair itself. Bone spurs on top of your foot can feel like a hard lump or bump underneath the skin.

The chances of developing a bone spur in the foot increase with age. Its impact on your everyday routine depends on the severity. Some people don’t even notice a bone spur on their foot. Others deal with crippling pain that makes it difficult to walk, stand, or wear shoes.

A bone spur on top of the foot is sometimes due to osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis. With this condition, cartilage between bones can deteriorate over time. To compensate for missing cartilage, the body produces extra growths of bones called bone spurs.

Osteoarthritis isn’t the only thing that causes a bone spur on top of the foot. A number of other factors can cause deterioration of cartilage, resulting in the growth of a bone spur.

Activities that can contribute to bone spurs include dancing, running, and exercise. Other causes include:

  • injury to the foot
  • obesity or being overweight
  • wearing tight shoes

Bone spurs commonly occur on the foot due to the amount of pressure placed on these bones.

If you have a bone spur on the foot, it’ll likely appear on top of the mid-foot. You may also develop a toe spur or a heel spur.

Although bone spurs are common on the foot, they can form on other parts of the body, including:

Several factors raise the risk of developing a bone spur on the foot. In addition to osteoarthritis, these risk factors include:

  • Age. The older you are, the higher your risk of getting a bone spur. Cartilage breaks down with age, and this gradual wear and tear prompts the body to create extra bone in an attempt to repair itself.
  • Physical activity. Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, and boost your energy level. But it can also put added stress on your feet, which puts you at risk for bone spurs.
  • Wearing tight shoes. Tight shoes can pinch your toes and cause continuous friction on your feet and toes.
  • Injury. Bone spurs can develop after a minor injury like a bruise or after a fracture.
  • Being overweight. Excess weight puts added pressure on your feet and other bones. This can cause your cartilage to break down faster, leading to a bone spur.
  • Flat feet. Having a low or nonexistent arch in the feet can result in your entire foot touching the floor when standing. This places extra strain on your joints and triggers different problems, such as hammer toe, blisters, bunions, and bone spurs.

Bone spurs don’t always cause symptoms. It’s possible to have one and not realize it. Some people, however, develop pain or soreness on the top of their mid-foot. Pain varies from person-to-person and may gradually worsen.

Other symptoms of a bone spur on the foot include:

  • redness and swelling
  • stiffness
  • limited mobility in joints
  • corns
  • difficulty standing or walking

See a doctor for foot pain that worsens or doesn’t improve. A doctor will physically examine your foot and joints to determine the location of pain and to assess your range of motion.

Your doctors will use an imaging test (which takes detailed pictures of the joints in your feet) to diagnose a bone spur. Options include an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

You don’t need treatment for a bone spur that doesn’t cause symptoms. Since a bone spur will not go away on its own, options to relieve bothersome pain include:

Weight loss

Losing weight reduces pressure on the bones in your feet and relieves pain associated with a bone spur. Here are some tips:

  • exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week
  • reduce your calorie intake
  • practice portion control
  • consume more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains
  • cut back on sugar, fried foods, and fatty foods

Change shoes or wear padding

Changing your footwear can also relieve symptoms of a bone spur, especially if you work on your feet.

Choose shoes that aren’t too tight or too loose, and ones that don’t pinch your toes. Wear shoes with rounded or square toe for extra room. If you have a low arch, add extra padding to your shoes to relieve pressure.

Heat and ice therapy

Alternating between ice and heat therapy may also ease pain associated with a bone spur. Heat can improve pain and stiffness, while ice can relieve inflammation and swelling. Place a cold pack or heating pad on your foot for 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day.

Cortisone injection

Talk to a doctor to see if you’re a candidate for a cortisone injection which helps stop inflammation. A doctor injects the medicine directly into your bone to ease pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Walking boot

Walking boots are designed to protect the foot after an injury or a surgical procedure. They can also be worn to relieve pressure and pain associated with a bone spur.

Pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium) can relieve the inflammation and pain of a bone spur. Take as directed.

Bone spur on top of foot surgery

A doctor may recommend surgery to remove a bone spur. Typically, surgery is only an option when a bone spur causes severe pain or limits mobility.

You might not be able to prevent bone spurs if you have osteoarthritis. Even so, you can lower your risk of developing one by maintaining a healthy weight, reducing pressure on your joints, and wearing the right type of footwear. If you have flat feet, wear insoles designed to provide arch support.

Bone spurs can make it difficult to walk or wear shoes, so don’t ignore symptoms of this condition. Speak with a doctor if you have pain or suspect a bone spur on the top of your foot.

Between medication and making a few life changes, you can improve your symptoms and prevent a bone spur from getting worse.