Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are bony projections that develop along the edges of a bone or in the area where muscles, tendons, and ligaments are attached. Bone spurs are often found in joints and also in the bones of the spine.
The main cause of bone spurs is from disease conditions such as osteoarthritis. Other factors which can exacerbate bone spurs include being overweight, poor posture, past injuries, and ill-fitting shoes.
Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms and are often undiagnosed until an x-ray reveals the growths. In some cases bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion in the affected joints. Specific symptoms depend on where the bone spurs are located. Bone spurs in the spine can cause stenosis (narrowing of the spinal cord) resulting in neurological symptoms in the patient due to pressure on the nerves. Bone spurs that press against tendons or ligament can cause a tear to occur.
Diagnosis starts with a physical examination of the affected area and x-rays shows the actual condition responsible for producing the symptoms. If required other imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI scan may be ordered by the doctor if there are complications to surrounding structures affected by the bone spur.
The conservative treatment for bone spurs includes pain medications, rest, ice, orthotics and stretching exercises. Depending on the location and the severity of the pain and inflammation, steroids injection may be recommended.
In severe cases, surgical removal of the bone spur may be recommended as an option.