Bone Spurs

What are Bone Spurs?

Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs are small projections that can form along the edges of bones. They can cause pain by rubbing against adjacent nerves and bones.

How do They Happen?

Bone spurs often form as the result of another condition. For instance, if you have osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down. When your body tries to compensate for that loss, bone spurs can be created. Bone spurs can also be connected to the conditions plantar fasciitis and spinal stenosis. In some cases, bone spurs can form just as a normal part of aging.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Often you may not even know you have bone spurs. They may be painless and undetected until you're x-rayed for another condition. However, you may realize you have bone spurs if you experience these symptoms:

  • Pain in your joints and other body parts, including knees, neck, fingers, spine, and shoulders
  • Loss of range of motion in your joints

How are They Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have bone spurs, your doctor can perform a physical exam and feel the affected areas. He or she may also use imaging such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computerized tomography (CT) scans to review your joints and bones.

How are They Treated?

Often painful bone spurs can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if your pain is severe or if you range of motion is limited, surgery may be the solution. Your surgeon may remove bone spurs as part of another operation, such as surgery for osteoarthritis. Sometimes the procedure will be done as an open surgery, under general anesthesia. Other times, it can be done as arthroscopy in an outpatient setting.

What is the Prognosis?

In most cases, surgery will relieve the pain of bone spurs and recovery is good. However, there may be cases in which the pain remains or the bone spurs grow back.