Treatments for Bone Spurs

Overview

Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are smooth outgrowths of bone that occur in several parts of the body over a long period. These growths of smooth bone are a natural part of aging, although sometimes they are caused or accelerated by certain health conditions like osteoarthritis. Joint damage from osteoarthritis is the most common cause of bone spurs. Bones spurs often affect people above the age of 60 [1] but younger people can also develop them.

The outgrowths of bone are not painful on their own [2]. The problem is that they sometimes push into nearby tissue and nerves, and this can cause unpleasant symptoms such as pain and inflammation. The spurs are common in the feet (particularly the heel, ankle, and big toe), hips, neck, shoulders, knees, hands or fingers, and spine.

While bone spurs affect many parts of the body, they are often implicated in chronic back pain problems. This happens when the bony growths occur on the vertebrae of the spine. The spine (vertebral column) is made up of several bones called vertebrae. These bones, which bones surround the spinal canal and protect the spinal cord, have gel-filled discs between them that act as shock absorbers. The discs allow forward, backward, and twist movements.

There are spaces called foramina behind the discs and joints of each vertebra. These foramina provide an outlet for the spinal nerves exiting the spinal canal. When bone spurs form in the openings of these nerve roots, the space becomes narrower and presses on the nerves. This condition, known as foramen stenosis [3], can be quite debilitating.

This imposition on nerves and tissue can happen in almost any body part and result in inflammation, reduced range of motion, numbness and weakness (in the legs if the spine is affected), tendon tears, etc. If your bone spurs do not cause symptoms, you don’t need treatment. If you have symptoms, you can some of these treatment methods may help reduce them.