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Bone spurs – Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management

Bone spurs – Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management

Bone spurs are smooth, bony growths that appear gradually. They are expected bone growth that occurs primarily as we age. Therefore, spurs by themselves could be more effective. However, their impact on neighboring structures, such as nerves and the spinal cord, can cause pain. The discs between the bones are gel-filled to act as shock absorbers. Osteophytes, often known as bone spurs, can cause problems if they grow in the nerve root apertures.

What are the symptoms of a bone spur?
Many individuals do not know they have bone spurs. Spurs become an issue when they:
Irritate the adjacent nerves
Limit one’s movements
Scuff against other tissues or bones

A person with bone spurs may experience the following:
Areas with bumps or ridges, notably in the fingers or toes
Numbness and weakness, particularly in the legs, may occur if the spine has spurs
Heel pain or soreness near the affected joint
A restricted range of motion (how far the joint moves)
Tendinitis (inflammation of a neighboring tendon) (swelling of a nearby tendon)
Tendon rupture (like a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder)

The vast majority of bone spurs are asymptomatic. You may know that you have bone spurs once the growth is identified on an X-ray for another condition. However, bone spurs can cause joint pain and restrict the range of motion. The location of the bone spurs will influence the specific symptoms of the condition. Examples include:

Knee: If one has bone spurs in the knee, extending and flexing the leg may hurt.

Spine: Bone spurs may restrict the space available on the vertebrae for the spinal cord. These bone spurs could compress the spinal cord or its nerve roots, leaving the arms or legs weak or numb.

Hip: Even though one may experience knee pain, bone spurs can make it difficult to move the hip. Depending on where they are, bone spurs can limit one’s hip joint’s range of motion.

Causes of bone spurs
The most common cause of bone spurs is joint degeneration caused by degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis. The padding between the spine’s bones and joints may degrade over time. In addition, gout, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis can injure the joints.

The body develops new bone tissue when it seeks to repair the cartilage. Osteophytes are the name for these fresh bony growths. Ankylosing spondylitis can also cause bone spurs. This unique arthritis causes spinal inflammation. As a result of ankylosing spondylitis, the small spine bones eventually fuse or unite (vertebrae). As a result, the body produces spinal osteophytes.

Bone spurs can form as a result of a joint or tendon injury. One’s body strives to mend fractured bones by producing new bone where the old bone has been damaged.

How are bone spurs diagnosed?
After gathering the patient’s medical history and performing a physical examination, physicians can rule out illnesses with similar symptoms but different causes.

A doctor may ask for the following tests:

CT scan: It is a powerful X-ray that makes images of the inside of a human body. These X-rays are used to detect any changes in the bones.

Electroconductive test: These tests check how fast the nerves send electrical signals. They can show the damage bone spurs have caused to the nerves in the spinal canal.

MRI: MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make images of the organs and structures inside one’s body.

What are the treatments for bone spurs?
If a bone spur only causes minor discomfort, a doctor may suggest taking a prescribed pain reliever to temporarily reduce edema and inflammation.

Physical treatments of bone spur that focus on strengthening the muscles surrounding the affected joint, particularly the spine, may be therapeutic. It may also help one avoid nerve pressure while moving.

If the bone spur is impinging on a nerve or severely limiting one’s range of motion, it may need to be surgically removed. For example, if the osteophyte is in the spine, a “spacer” may be inserted in the affected vertebra to prevent it from pressing on a nerve. Likewise, a bone spur in the shoulder or knee may be removed via arthroscopic surgery, which involves making tiny incisions to reach the joint using specialized instruments.

Open surgery takes longer to recuperate than arthroscopic surgery, which is performed as an outpatient treatment. Nonetheless, the surgically restored joint may take a few weeks to feel normal. Surgically reconstructed vertebrae may also provide pain alleviation after a few weeks. If one chooses physical therapy and prescription for pain instead of surgery, the bone spurs will remain a part of one’s life and may have significant implications in the future. However, if one knows what exercises to do and how to maintain appropriate posture, one can decrease the adverse effects of bone spurs on one’s quality of life.