Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are growths that form on normal bones. While some people think of something sharp sticking out of a bone as the bone spur, it is actually just a bit of extra bone on the otherwise normal bone. It is often smooth but can cause pain or discomfort when it rubs against the nearby tissue or other bones, ligaments, nerves and tendons. The most common places of the body for bone spurs are the feet, knees, shoulders, spine, hands and hips.
Causes of Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are often part of the aging process, starting to form when the body is trying to build extra bone or repair itself from a long period of stress, pressure and rubbing. This extended period of time is why bone spurs are more common in older adults. The tissue covering the end of your body’s bones will eventually wear away and break down in a condition called osteoarthritis. This can lead to the forming of bone spurs on the edges of the bone joints, most commonly in the feet and spine. They can also form in the feet following tight ligaments from certain athletic activities like running or dancing, as well as pressure due to being overweight or shoes that don’t fit properly. Bone spurs may also exist in the narrow area between shoulder and upper arm in conjunction with a rotator cuff disorder.
Symptoms of Bone Spurs
Most people with bone spurs don’t realize they have them as the symptoms can either be practically non-existent or it will feel like a normal part of the aging process. Others will get persistent pressure, pain, swelling and tearing that cause them to get checked out by a doctor. Foot bone spurs tend to show more symptoms than other parts of the body because it often causes calluses and corns in the feet due to the buildup of tissue.
Diagnosing and Treating Bone Spurs
To diagnose bone spurs, an x-ray is usually required. This will show the doctor whether or not you have a bone spur and where exactly it’s located. Many times someone goes in for suspicion of other things such as arthritis, and during the x-ray the doctor ill notice the bone spurs. To treat bone spurs, the only thing needed is usually a pain reliever if it is causing pain. Surgery isn’t done to remove bone spurs as they are considered a normal part of aging. You may also need to relieve the pressure in other ways such as by losing weight and wearing proper shoes. This is part of treatment for bone spurs caused by running with the incorrect shoes.