What are the Most Common Symptoms of a Bone Spur on the Toe?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, can occur anywhere in the skeletal system, but are common in the foot. A bone spur on the toe or heel may be caused by damage or trauma to the surrounding ligaments or cartilage or a natural result of aging and use. They can be caused by excessive growth of bone, usually at a joint where two bones meet. Pain in the affected area, swelling or tenderness to the touch may be symptomatic of toe bone spurs.

Bone spurs can occur on any toe, but are most common on the fifth toe. In many cases, a bone spur on the toe may be present without any symptoms. In some cases, pain in the affected area does occur. The pain that occurs with osteophytes is not caused by the “spur” itself, but results from friction against another bone, nerve, or soft tissue. In rarer cases, a bone spur may break off, lodge between a joint and effectively cause immobility of the joint.


Pain and inflammation in any toe can be the result of many different conditions. For example, arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, can cause similar pain. For a doctor to be certain that a bone spur has formed, an x-ray or other imaging test will need to be performed. These tests are often performed when a patient presents with pain in a specific area and no other known causes exist. Confirmation of a bone spur can result in different treatment options.

Treatment options for a bone spur on the toe may range from anti-inflammatory drug therapy, physical therapy, and temporary immobility with a special boot or foot brace. If a combination of these actions does not yield results, surgery may be required in cases where pain is chronic or severe or if imaging tests show damage to surrounding nerves, ligaments, or tendons. Surgery for a toe bone spur is usually simple and may require smoothing the spur with a surgical buffer and removal of all or part of the toe nail.

In many cases, a bone spur on the toe is not evident by any symptoms. If there is little or no pain, there may be nothing that needs to be done aside from temporarily resting the foot by limiting physical activity. Wearing comfortable, properly fitting shoes that do not scrunch the toes can also help relieve minor discomfort caused by bone spurs.


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Post 4

My pinky toenail was torn a few years ago and now it rubs against the toe next to it. Both toes are always raw and tender, especially after walking a lot.

My foot doc told me it was a bone spur but did nothing to fix it besides trimming my toenails. Is this really a bone spur or is my doctor smoking something and can I find another doctor who can help me? I'm on medicare so I don't know if this surgery is covered under that.

Post 3

@feruze-- You should get checked out for arthritis. Bone spurs sometimes cause arthritis to develop around the bone and that's what usually causes stiffness and inflammation.

I have a bone spur on my big toe along with arthritis. I'm using a topical pain reliever and foot stretching exercises to relieve the inflammation and stiffness.

Post 2

@ankara-- Do you also have redness on your skin, on top of the bone spur in your toe? And stiffness?

My little toe has become so stiff due to the bone spur, it barely moves.

Post 1

I have a bone spur on my big toe. It's difficult not to notice it because there is a big bump where the bone has grown outward.

It used to give me a lot of pain in the beginning but it has gotten better over time. Now it only hurts when I wear tight shoes. I have to wear comfortable shoes with plenty of space around my toes.

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