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Find out about bone spurs and how they are treated
Bone spurs, which are known as osteophytes, are hard bumps that grow along the edges of bones or around the joints. While bone spurs may not always cause noticeable symptoms, they can cause a variety of problems when they press on nearby nerves or rub against other bones or tissues.
Bone spurs can form on any bone, however, the most common areas include:
Osteophytes formation is often the result of a specific type of arthritis, known as osteoarthritis.
In everyday life, your joints are exposed to low-level damage as you use your bodies to move and function. This is completely normal and a healthy body easily repairs this low-level damage, so you do not experience any symptoms.
In osteoarthritis, the protective barrier of cartilage on the ends of the bones is broken down, which causes pain, swelling and inflammation. As the body tries to repair damage to the cartilage, it can produce bone spurs. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause for the formation of bone spurs.
There is, unfortunately, not a specific risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. As a result, it is not possible to determine the risk of developing bone spurs. However, there are certain things that are currently believed to increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:
However, in some cases bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion in a joint. An x-ray will reveal the growths. These will be called osteophytic lipping, which is the technical term for a bone spur in an x-ray report.
They can provoke a range of different symptoms, depending on where in parts of the body they are located. Common areas affected include:
There are a wide range of symptoms associated with bone spurs. As many of them overlap with other conditions and illnesses, it can sometimes be challenging to determine the exact cause. This is where a consultation with an expert in bone problems can be extremely helpful.
If you have a bone spur and feel that you need relief from the symptoms you’re experiencing, talk to one of our consultants. In your private consultation, you will be able to discuss your symptoms, explain how they are affecting your life, and ask them for their expert advice and opinion.
During your visit, your consultant will also be able to arrange for you to have any tests required, such as x-rays or other diagnostic scans. In most cases, these tests will be carried out on the same day. However, in some circumstances, and especially if the test requires specific preparation, we’ll need to arrange the test for another day.
If you are in pain, over-the-counter pain medication may be of help to reduce pain. Ibuprofen, for example, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), which can help to reduce swelling or inflammation linked to the arthritis. Night splints may also help to reduce overnight pain in the foot.
Physical therapy may also help improve the range of motion and to strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected area. This nonsurgical treatment may be particularly useful for bone spurs in the shoulder or bone spurs in the elbow.
Bone spurs are not normally removed through surgical procedure. However, there are some circumstances that may require surgery, such as when a nerve in your spine is being seriously affected or if your range of motion has been reduced.
During surgery, your consultant will make a small incision near the bone spur. The consultant will then use small tools to remove the piece of bone.
Surgery can also be used help to manage the related arthritis in a joint and this is something you will be able to discuss further when you see one of our highly-experienced orthopaedic consultants.