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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM

Toe Bone Spur

by Jane

I have a bone spur on the top (off to the side) of my middle toe. I thought it was a corn or wart until I showed it to my PC doctor. I had been using corn removal pads and filing it with a nail file until I had it infected. It gets really sore at times, depending on the shoes that I wear. I would like to know if bone spurs continue to grow. I am inclined to ignore it but I have read that sometimes they break off and cause other problems. If surgery is the answer, what is the recovery period? Do you have to wear a "boot"? I hear that it is quite painful. I would appreciate any info you can give me.

Hi Jane,
Generally bone spurs that occur on the side of the toe are really just a hypertrophy (enlargement) of the normal "flare" of these small bones.
Shoes that tend to be too narrow for the individual will press this enlarged bone into the adjacent toe and you may either develop a corn or perhaps an inflamed bursal sac.
So, the chances of this bone breaking off is about zero.
Your bigger question here is how much does it hurt? If you are reasonably young and in good health and it hurts enough, have it removed. Yes, it is surgery, but it is not major foot surgery. My patients leave the hospital with that "boot" you refer to, but I see them 2 days later, put on a smaller dressing and they can generally get into a large sneaker or if it is warm they can wear a sandal.
Sutures stay in for two weeks, the toe generally has to wrapped in a compression wrap for a few weeks, because one of the side effects of toe surgery is excessive swelling and if it is not controlled the toe may stay permanently swollen. During this period you will not be out on the tennis court but you will be functional and depending on your job may be able to return to work in a few days after surgery.
Marc Mitnick DPM

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Oct 01, 2018
toe bone spur
by: Dr. Mitnick

More thoughts on.....

toe bone spur

As mentioned in the original post, a bone spur on the side of the toe is usually nothing more then the enlargement of the normal flare every bone in the toes exhibit.
This can occur from arthritic changes within the joint, as the joint becomes arthritic it causes spurring to form around the joint.
However, more often then not, the spurring on the sides of toes is the result of constant pressure against the bone, coming from the adjacent toes.
This will happen for two main reasons. One, the person is wearing very narrow shoes which causes toe to toe pressure (bone to bone pressure) and this pressure causes normal bones to hypertrophy or thicken.
The second reason may be due to alignment changes of the toes relative to each other.
For most of us, when we are younger, our toes are fairly straight and they line up evenly against each other.
As we age the toes become misaligned, again from arthritic changes, and you end up with part of one bone rubbing against a portion of the adjacent bone and you get pain.
This pain may be present as just pain from one bone hitting the other.
It may also be from the formation of a corn adjacent to the bone which forms from the pressure of two bone pressing against each other.
You may also develop an inflamed bursal sac, which will appear as slightly red and swollen on the side of the toe and will be painful to touch.
Toe bone spurs on top of the toes are usually the result of hammertoes or mallet toes. In each case these conditions are caused by excessive bending of the toe which ends up putting pressure on the tops of the toes from excessive shoe pressure. Again, the more stylish and narrow the shoe, the greater the chance of pain.
Treatment for bone spurs can be as simple as changing the types of shoes you wear. A visit to a podiatrist will result in conservative care such as trimming a corn, application of orthopedic padding to take pressure off the corn and perhaps a cortisone injection for an inflamed bursal sac.
When conservative measures fail, then surgery may be discussed. Remember, these are elective procedures and they are fairly straight forward, but do not be quick to consent to surgery until you have tried conservative options.

Sep 24, 2016
Bone sour
by: Anonymous

I had bone spur surgery 3 weeks ago and stitches were removed 3 days ago. There is swelling and pain but not overwhelming. It's not so bad.

Jun 18, 2016
Might be worth it.
by: Jacqueline

I had bone spurs on each foot on the toe next to your little toe. I was in the Military for 8 yrs, and wore Jump Boots on the daily but they fit good, not too small. I had surgery done on my L foot for that one back in '97 and have always regretted doing it. Not b/c of the surgery but b/c the Dr. said my toe was a bit curls so he nipped the tendon so it would lay out flatter like the rest of my toes but now it just looks like an out of place bratwurst on a plate of hotdogs. He talked about doing surgery on my R foot but I never went back! And YES!! It was very painful!! I couldn't walk to the bathroom afterwards, I had to crawl, and try to keep my foot up in the air at the same time b/c having the blood going down into my toes was way too painful. Having the other foot done is not worth it, I'll keep my little curled piggies.

May 09, 2014
Big Toe joint bone spurs
by: Anonymous

I have a bone spur on each big toe joint. Both Seem to have gotten bigger all of a sudden. Can not find shoes to fit so i can walk. Podiatrist made foam inserts, but no shoe can accommodate them. I'm at the point of no return, I want to get the right one done but I'm very scared especially after reading all the horror stories! This has been a problem for 8 years increasing every year, this year the worst. Having a hard time walking too far.

Mar 18, 2014
Satisfied with surgery
by: Anonymous

Had a bone spur removed from my fifth (baby) toe on march 5, and have not had any pain just some swelling if im on it to long. I can walk with or without the boot with no problem or pain. Get my stitches out on Monday. We'll see what happens after that.

Jan 20, 2012
bonespur surgery - long time to heal
by: Lisa

I had bonespur surgery on big and 2nd toe (adjacent to each other) almost 4 months ago on same foot. Still healing. Incisions have long since healed up but it's what's going on inside that is problematic. Surgery areas still tender, with burning numbness underneath forefoot when pressure is applied. 2nd toe still not back to normal color quite yet. In physical therapy for desensitation, ultrasound therapy, and strengthening. Since surgery, gait has been thrown off which causes pain in foot and ankle, plus atrophy in leg from low use of it. Didn't think recovery would take this long or be this sore. Everything I read on internet had people back to normal in a about a month. I am assuming I am still doing internal healing. Could it take up to a year to be all done with this, even tho it wasn't major surgery? My toes are angry, lol!

Hi Lisa,
It sounds like your issues are taking longer than normal. At four months post operative I would have thought you would be well on your way to recovery with an occasional episode of discomfort. You need to have a conversation with your surgeon because if there is an issue, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to remedy the problem.
If your surgeon fails to give you satisfaction and kind of blows you off, then I would suggest you get a second opinion from another foot specialist in your area.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Mar 27, 2011
bad idea
by: Carol

I had bone spurs removed last July. They were in the joint of my right big toe. I was a nursing asst. and on my feet all the time. My DR. told me 4 to 5 weeks of recovery before I could return to work. After 7 weeks I had to go back I could't afford to be off any longer. Now it is almost April I had to leave my job because of the pain. I can't put pressure on it, walk barefoot, where shoes without pain or work. I feel stuck, depressed, I ache all over because of the way I have to walk. I lost my insurance (I now have cobra very $$$$) my surgeon has no idea what is going on. He told me to come back when I had my insurance figured out. Never have toe surgery without at least 3 second opinions.

May 05, 2009
Bone spur surgery
by: Anonymous

I had a bone spur removed from my second to small toe. The pain has been worse since the surgery. What can I do next?

I would suggest you see another doctor and get a second opinion, but do not be too quick to have additional surgery.
Marc Mitnick DPM

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