Dealing with foot pain can be painful, frustrating, and even confusing. Several conditions can appear to be something they’re not. Bunions, for example, are commonly confused with bone spurs.

Although the two may appear similar, there are a few key differences. All foot pain is manageable, but not in the same way. Treatment for bunions and bone spurs is also different, so it is essential to get a proper diagnosis before choosing any treatment plan or making assumptions. So, let’s get right to comparing the two conditions: bunion vs. bone spur.

What is a Bunion?

In short, a bunion is a bony bump that can form on the joints of your big and little toes. They are often painful and will not go away on their own. There are various treatment methods for bunions that can be tried, depending on the type of bunion, its location, and its severity.

The formation of bunions typically occurs when the toes remain in an uncomfortable angle for extended periods. This most commonly occurs when wearing improper footwear. Some examples include high heels, dress shoes, or shoes that don’t fit properly. However, genetics can also play a part in the formation of bunions. The shape and structure of bones in the feet can make some people more susceptible than others to bunion formation.

What is a Bone Spur?

Bone spurs are distinct from bunions in several key ways. Bone spurs are the growth of an extra bone, typically at a joint where two bones meet. Bone spurs occur when the body is trying to repair missing cartilage, resulting in an extra bone forming beneath the skin.

It is more common to get bone spurs with age. Bone spurs can vary in size and can be extremely painful. The type of shoes you wear can also play a role in the formation of bone spurs. If the shoe does not fit correctly, the cartilage is more likely to deteriorate and cause a bone spur.

Obesity is another cause of bone spurs. The extra weight bearing down on your feet can cause your joints to become exhausted. Blunt force and injury can also cause the cartilage to break down and bone spurs to form.

Bunion vs. Bone Spurs

There are many similarities and differences between bone spurs and bunions. The two can appear to be very similar because they feel like a bump on your big toe’s joint. They both can cause redness and swelling of the toes and surrounding areas as well. Both can result from improper footwear as well.

There are, however, some critical differences between bunions and bone spurs. Bunions are a deformity of the bones and a soft-tissue imbalance. On the other hand, bone spurs are most likely formed by trauma to the joint or by arthritis. 

Ill-fitting shoes and genetics are the primary causes of bunions. While the wrong shoes can also lead to bone spurs, they are also caused by injury, weight, and age.

Give Us a Call

Distinguishing the differences of a bunion vs. bone spurs can be confusing. To put an end to your pain and find a solution, reach out to Northwest Surgery Center. You can schedule your consultation today. We’re ready to help!

If considering surgery, download our free “Guide to Minimally Invasive Foot & Ankle Surgery”

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