Bone Spurs Are a Thorny Problem

If you wonder what that stabbing pain is in your heel, it may be a bone spur.

Bone spur is a general term used to describe a knobby, abnormal bone growth. Bone spurs are also known as osteophytes. Scientists believe bone spurs happen because of osteoarthritis or when the body tries to heal itself after a trauma by replacing bone. The growth is usually small and often unnoticed.

Although bone spurs can form on any bone, they usually happen on joints where 2 bones come together, or where ligaments or tendons attach to bones. Areas that tend to develop bone spurs are the neck, shoulders, elbows, spine, hips, knees and heels. Spurs are not painful, but they can cause pain if they rub on a nerve or other tissue.

Older adults are more prone to developing bone spurs. Spurs can also happen in young athletes or dancers because of the added stress on their muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Pain may happen while the spur is forming, but can settle down. In some cases, pain may continue and get in the way of physical activity.

These are reasons to see your healthcare provider about a bone spur:

  • You discover an abnormal growth.
  • You experience pain associated with the growth.
  • You experience pain or weakness at a joint.
  • You have difficulty walking because of pain in the knees or heel.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe rest, anti-inflammatory medicines or physical therapy if the spur is creating problems for you. These noninvasive treatments usually are effective in treating the bone spur.

In rare instances, surgery may be recommended if the spur and resulting inflammation are creating serious physical problems like prohibiting walking, and the spur is not responding to other forms of treatment.

Gout

What is gout?

Gout is a health problem that causes inflamed, painful joints. The symptoms are caused by deposits of urate crystals at the joints. Gout used to be associated with kings who overindulged in rich food and wine. In truth, anyone can get gout. Gout affects more men than women. It is often linked with obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of lipids in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and diabetes.

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposits in the joints. This is due to an excess of uric acid in the body. Too much uric acid may be caused by several things. It may be caused by the body making too much uric acid. Or the kidneys may not get rid of enough uric acid. It may also be caused by eating a lot of foods that are high in purines. Purines turn into uric acid in the body.

Foods high in purines include:

  • Alcoholic drinks and sugary drinks high in fructose
  • Certain meats, such as game meats, kidney, brains, and liver
  • Dried beans and dried peas
  • Seafood, such as anchovies, herring, scallops, sardines, and mackerel

Gout attacks may be triggered by any of the following:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating a lot of protein-rich foods
  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Illness
  • Minor surgery

Who is at risk for gout?

You are at higher risk for gout if you:

  • Are a man
  • Are a postmenopausal woman
  • Have kidney disease
  • Have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Have family members with gout

What are the symptoms of gout?

Gout causes sudden, recurrent attacks of symptoms that often occur without warning. Severe, chronic gout may lead to deformity. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. Common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • General feeling of illness
  • Hard lumps of urate crystal deposits under the skin (tophi)
  • Severe, sudden pain in one or more joints, most often the joint in the big toe
  • Skin that is red or purple, tight, and shiny over the joint
  • Swollen joint(s)
  • Warmth in the joint area

Some symptoms of gout can be like other health conditions. Make sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is gout diagnosed?

The process starts with a medical history and a physical exam. A fluid sample may be taken from the joint and checked for urate crystals.

How is gout treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment may include:

  • Avoiding alcoholic drinks
  • Colchicine, an oral or IV medicine to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Drinking more nonalcoholic fluids
  • Eating less protein-rich foods
  • Medicine to block production of uric acid in the body
  • Medicine to lower the uric acid level in the blood
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Surgery to remove extremely large tophi
  • Weight loss, if obesity is an issue

Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.

What are the complications of gout?

People with gout have a higher risk for kidney stones, due to crystal deposits in the kidneys. They can also have kidney damage. Crystal deposits in the joints can cause some disability due to stiffness and pain.

Living with gout

You can reduce the risk of future flare-ups of gout and decrease their severity by taking medicine as prescribed. If you are given medicine to take when a flare-up occurs, it is best to start taking it at the first sign of symptoms. Or get medical attention at the first sign of symptoms. To help prevent episodes of gout:

  • Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any new medicine, including over-the-counter medicines
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercise regularly
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Don’t eat foods that are high in purines

When should I call my health care provider?

If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your healthcare provider know.

Key points about gout

  • Gout causes inflamed, painful joints due to urate crystal deposits at the joints.
  • Gout can also cause urate crystal deposits that cause lumps under the skin.
  • Gout can be triggered by eating foods high in purines and drinking alcohol.
  • Treatment of gout is aimed at reducing pain and the risk of future flare-ups.
  • Gout can be managed with medicines and lifestyle changes.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:

  • The name of the test or procedure
  • The reason you are having the test or procedure
  • What results to expect and what they mean
  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
  • What the possible side effects or complications are
  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure
  • Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
  • What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
  • Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
  • When and how will you get the results
  • Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
  • How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure

Bunion

Pain and stiffness in your foot with walking, mainly in the big toe? This could be the result of a bunion. Bunions are a bony bump that forms at the base of the joint of your big toe. For many, bunions run in the family, and usually show up in early childhood, while getting worse with age. It occurs most often in women who for years may have been wearing tight poorly fitting shoes or high heels.

Bunion surgery generally involves an incision at the top or side of the big toe joint to assist in the removal or realignment of soft tissue and bone. This is done to relieve pain and restore normal alignment to the joint. Dr. Engel and Dr. Nute specialize in this procedure. Call us today at 262-764-5595.

Anatomy of the Foot

 

 

 

The foot is one of the most complex parts of the body, consisting of 28 bones connected by numerous joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The foot is susceptible too many types of injuries. Foot pain and problems can cause pain and inflammation, resulting in limited movement and mobility.

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