Bone Spurs: When Your Body’s Good Intentions Go Bad

Bone spurs can cause heel pain or go completely undetected.

Osteophytes, more commonly called bone spurs, are small, outward bone growths that typically occur near joints or where muscles, tendons or ligaments attach to the bone. Bone spurs occur as a result of the body attempting to repair itself (good intentions). The body generates more bone at locations that have experienced increased wear and tear, sometimes resulting in painful friction and limited range of motion (gone bad). Those with osteoarthritis are more susceptible to this condition due to the lack of cartilage allowing bone to rub on bone.

Different Types of Bone Spurs

Bone spurs can occur in various parts of the body. They often go undetected until a patient begins to experience pain or reduced motion. Here are some of the locations that bone spurs can form:

Bone spurs can cause heel pain or go completely undetected.
Heel pain can be caused by bone spurs.

• Heel– The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that “one out of 10 people has heel spurs, but only 1 out of 20 people (5%) with heel spurs has foot pain.”
• Knee – Knee spurs are typically slow growing but can reduce range of motion in the knee joint.
• Hip– A hip bone spur can cause pain when moving the hip joint, depending on location of the spur.
• Shoulder – Bone spurs located in the shoulder can lead to shoulder tendinitis or a torn rotator cuff due to repeated rubbing.
• Fingers – Bone spurs in the fingers often appear as hard bumps near the finger joints.


Diagnosing and Treating Bone Spurs

To diagnose bones spurs, the orthopedist will discuss your symptoms and perform a physical examination. Confirming the diagnosis will require diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray, ultrasound imaging, MRI or CT scans.
Unless a bone spur is causing pain or limited motion, they do not have to be treated. The pain is a result of the bone growth rubbing on the adjacent nerves or tissue. If a bone spur does become problematic, conservative treatment options such as weight loss (for knee spurs), over-the-counter pain relievers or physical therapy can be utilized.
The physician may recommend cortisone injections to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Cortisone injections typically last anywhere from several weeks to several months. If problems persist, surgery may be recommended. Arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure, is effective and reduces recovery time, as opposed to traditional surgery.

Schedule an Appointment

The Center for Advanced Orthopedics (CAO) offers same day appointments and in-office radiologic imaging/testing, such as x-rays and musculoskeletal ultrasounds). Our board-certified doctors are highly qualified to assess, diagnose and treat patients experiencing symptoms of bone spurs. Call us at 618-288-9460 to schedule an appointment or visit for more information.

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