Bone Spurs: Causes and Treatments

Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are smooth, bony lumps that grow off bones. They develop over prolonged periods, especially near the joints. Bone spurs can occur in any individual but primarily affect older adults. If you have osteoarthritis, you are at a higher risk of getting bone spurs. Upper East Side bone spurs can develop from any bone but are most common in the heel, hip, knee, ankle, big toe, neck, shoulder, and spine. In most patients, bone spurs do not cause symptoms. If your bone spurs rub against other bones or press on nerves, you can have pain and stiffness.


Osteoarthritis: This is the leading cause of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis causing cartilage breakdown, a firm, flexible tissue that cushions your bones and enables joints to move more easily. It can result from aging or damage such as sports injuries. As your body tries to repair cartilage, it creates a new bone material called a bone spur. Osteoarthritis mainly affects your knees, hips, spine, and hands.

Ankylosing spondylitis: This rare form of arthritis causes spinal inflammation. Over time, ankylosing spondylitis connects the small bones in your spine. Your body responds by creating spinal bone spurs.


History: Your doctor will tell you to describe your symptoms and rate your extent of discomfort. The doctor will ask about your medical and family history and any injury you might have experienced around the affected part.

Physical examination: Your doctor can examine the affected part to check for swelling or other abnormalities. The doctor can tell you to walk around or move specific joints to test the strength and range of motion.

Imaging tests: X-rays can help detect arthritis and bone spurs. CT scans and MRIs help to identify damaged ligaments and tendons.


Medications: Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen can help relieve mild pain. Your physician can recommend cortisone shots if over-the-counter drugs do not ease your pain. Steroid shots temporarily reduce swelling and inflammation. You can only receive three injections in the same joint in a year, as too much steroids can damage your joint.

Physical therapy: Exercise and stretches help minimize pain and strengthen joint muscles. Physical therapy also improves range of motion to help avoid exacting pressure on your nerves.

Lifestyle changes: If you are overweight, weight loss can help reduce joint and bone stress.

Surgery: This is the last treatment option your doctor will recommend. If other treatment options do not treat your bone spurs, surgery can help remove bone spurs. Arthroscopic surgery can help eliminate your shoulder or knee bone spurs through tiny incisions. You can also have surgery if a bone spur is pressing on a nerve or limits your range of motion. If your bone spur is located in the spine, your surgeon can place a spacer on the affected vertebrae to prevent the osteophyte from pressing on the nerve.

Bone spurs do not require treatment if they are not causing effects. Seek immediate medical care if they cause any symptoms for effective treatment. Schedule an appointment at NYC Footcare PC for bone spur treatment to relieve your pain.

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