Bone Spur / Osteophytes

Overview

Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony growths that form along the edges of bones in joints. Bone spurs are most commonly associated with osteoarthritis and often occur in the knee, spine, and fingers. While most bone spurs are not harmful and do not require treatment, some may affect nerves or joint movement and need to be surgically removed.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Most bone spurs do not cause any symptoms. However, some can cause pain, reduced joint movement, and other symptoms specific to the area affected. Bone spurs commonly occur in the knee, spine, hip, shoulder, fingers, and feet (heel spurs). If there is pain, it is usually felt when moving the joint. In the spine, bone spurs can pinch the spinal cord or nerve roots and may cause weakness or numbness in the arms and legs. In the shoulder, bone spurs can cause swelling and tears in the rotator cuff. Bone spurs can also cause knobby joints in fingers. The primary complication of bone spurs is when they break off and become embedded in the lining of the joint or cause joint locking by drifting into the areas between bones.

A doctor will perform a physical exam to diagnose bone spurs. Sometimes the bone spur can be felt, but most times an X-ray will be ordered to determine where the bone spur is located. Continue reading for Causes, Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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