A bone spur is a bony protuberance that forms in joints and on the edges of bones. It is your body’s way of repairing itself from the loss of cartilage caused by osteoarthritis. The appearance of bone spurs is due to aging and is especially frequent in the joints of the spine and feet. Bone spurs can form in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a period. In the feet bone, spurs can form in response to tight ligaments, an excess of activities that put stress on the feet, and pressure caused by weight gain or ill-fitting shoes. A bone spur on the heel created by the pressure of tight shoes is sometimes called a “pump bump” because it frequently affects those who wear high heels. The primary cause of bone spurs is the joint degeneration linked with osteoarthritis. Most bone spurs are asymptomatic, going undetected for years. Bone spurs may not always require treatment. Choices about treatment depend on where Spurs are located and how they affect your health.
Symptoms of a Bone Spur
Most of the time bone spurs don’t cause any symptoms. But when bone spurs press on other bones, tissues, muscles, or tendons they can cause inflammation, pain, breakage, and loss of motion in your joints.
Depending on where the bone spurs are they can cause different symptoms. In the knee, they make extension and bending painful, sometimes getting in the way of bones and tendons. In the spine, spurs can narrow the space that contains the spinal cord, pinching it or its nerve roots and causing weakness or numbness in the arms or legs. In the hips, bone spurs can make moving the hips painful, sometimes significantly reducing the range of motion in your hip joint. In the shoulder, bone spurs can rub on your rotator cuff and limit control of shoulder movements. This rubbing can cause swelling and tears in your rotator cuff, also known as tendonitis. In the fingers, bone spurs look like hard lumps under the skin, making the fingers look knobby.
Your doctor will ask questions concerning your medical history before performing a physical exam, feeling around your joint to locate your pain. Your doctor may order X-rays or other imaging to view your joints and bones.
If your bone spurs cause pain, you may be advised to use over-the-counter pain relievers. Bone spurs can in some cases limit your range of motion or press on nerves so much that they need surgical removal. Treatment for the cause of spurs may include weight loss to take some pressure off the joints, stretching the affected area, seeing a physical therapist, ultrasound or deep tissue massage. Other treatment for symptoms can include rest, ice, stretching, changing footwear and in some cases injections that reduce the pain of inflamed soft tissues irritated by the bone spur.
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