Feet aren’t supposed to be bumpy. Hard lumps on the lower limbs indicate something is not quite right, especially if they’re painful. While an unusual bulge can be caused by a lot of different things, usually the lump itself falls into the bone spur category.
Source of the Hard Bumps
This deformity is a small projection of extra bone tissue that develops under pressure, stress, and friction. These typically appear near the ends of bones, though they can grow other places as well. They’re your body’s attempt to repair strain on the bone tissue by making the affected area thicker. Spurs are often smooth and may or may not cause painful problems. Sometimes, however, they grow pointed or large enough that they rub against soft tissues or make wearing shoes difficult. Other times they can pinch nerves or irritate tendons, causing pain. If they develop in a joint as the result of severe arthritis, they can impair movement as well.
Spurs in Your Feet
The most common place these bony growths appear in the lower limbs is on the heel bone, called the calcaneus. They can grow underneath the heel or on the back of it, depending on where the stress and pressure are most severe. A heel spur underneath the calcaneus is usually the result of advanced plantar fasciitis. The tightened, stiffened plantar fascia band pulls on the heel bone. The pressure from walking often make this stress worse, particularly if you are overweight or wear poorly-fitted shoes. Your calcaneus lays down extra bone tissue as a response. This can aggravate all the symptoms of your heel pain.
A hard prominence on the back of your calcaneus is usually influenced by a tight Achilles tendon and stiff-back shoes. This spur, called Haglund’s deformity or a pump bump, also develops under pressure on the back of the foot. This particular condition is commonly associated with wearing high heels frequently and it can make wearing certain shoes highly uncomfortable.
Spurs can develop in other places on your lower limbs as well. Occasionally they appear at the base of your littlest toe and create a type of bunionette. Arthritis in the big toe or the midfoot may create bony prominences as well. No matter what causes these extra bone growths, though, if they cause you pain, they need to be treated.
Living with Bone Bumps
Our podiatric team at Martin Foot and Ankle will need to examine your feet thoroughly to identify and manage your growth. Our staff will use diagnostic images like X-rays to get a clear picture of where the extra growth is and how large it has become. From there we can decide the best possible course for managing the discomfort.
Conservative therapy works to reduce the pressure and pain on the bony prominence. This may mean using pads to reduce the friction between your feet and your footwear. Sometimes changing your footwear to roomier, more supportive models can help. In some cases, you may need custom orthotics to minimize the pressure on the affected bones or reduce abnormal foot motion that may worsen the discomfort. Stretching may help relieve heel spur pain, particularly if it’s on the back of the calcaneus, by alleviating some of the stiffness in the Achilles. Some physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medication may help with the irritation in the tissues. If the prominence is pinching a nerve, inhibiting joint motion, or continuing to get larger, you may need to have the growth removed to alleviate the pain.
A bone spur can be quite painful, depending on where it is in your foot. If you have a hard bump on your lower limbs that causes you pain, don’t ignore it and live with the discomfort. Let Martin Foot and Ankle podiatrists help you manage the spur and wear shoes comfortably. Contact our York, Lancaster, Lititz and Hanover, PA, offices for an appointment by calling (717) 757-3537.