When you’re experiencing any kind of pain in your bones, even the most simple tasks can become a hassle. It becomes even more frustrating when you’re trying to figure out what caused the pain: Is it a stress fracture? Are you getting arthritis? Why is the area of pain starting to swell?
Things can get even more confusing if you go to the doctor for one thing, then x-rays reveal something completely unexpected, as is sometimes the case with bone spurs.
What Is a Bone Spur?
A bone spur is an outgrowth of a bone. The medical term for a bone spur is osteophyte. They can occur on joints, near cartilage, tendons, or the disks on your spine. Bone spurs may develop in knees, shoulders, hips, heels, feet, and hands.
If one of these areas is inflamed, the inflammation will stimulate cells that promote bone growth to create additional bone deposits. The main cause for this is osteoarthritis. As cartilage breaks down due to the osteoarthritis, the body tries to make up for it by creating additional bone. That said, bone spurs could also be the result of continued stress (repetitive motion), spinal stenosis, trauma, tendinitis, ankylosing spondylitis, or obesity.
Bone Spur Symptoms
As previously mentioned, learning that you have bone spurs may come as a surprise, since some people don’t experience symptoms. However, others experience some of the following:
- Joint pain
- Loss of range of motion
- Weakness of the joint
- Muscle spasms
Attempting to exercise the affected area will increase the pain.
Treatment for Bone Spurs
There are several treatment options for bone spurs, and although surgery is one of them, it should always be considered only as a last resort.
When a patient is first diagnosed with bone spurs, the doctor will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. If the patient is experiencing pain, we recommend resting the affected area for several weeks. Depending on your medical history and the severity of your spurs, you could be a candidate for cortisone injections.
In addition, if the patient’s range of motion is limited due to pain, physical therapy would likely be a good alternative.
Surgery should only be considered when none of the conservative treatments have worked (or if symptoms are getting worse), and the patient’s pain is affecting his or her ability to conduct activities of daily living.
Preventing Bone Spurs
When spurs are caused by things such as trauma or a degenerative disease, there isn’t much a person can do to prevent them. However, there are things that are under your control that can help you reduce your chance of developing bone spurs.
1. Strength training: This type of exercise promotes bone health and helps your muscles support your body weight, easing the stress on your joints. It also allows you to increase bone density, which is great for preventing additional issues, such as osteoporosis.
2. Maintain a healthy body weight: Being overweight or obese increases the pressure on your joints. In fact, the more a person weighs, the higher their chances of developing osteoarthritis.
3. Be careful when playing sports: We realize there are times when getting hit is just part of the game (as is the case with contact sports). However, never bypass protective gear. And if you’re more into solo activities such as running or swimming, remember to incorporate rest days and cross-training to give your joints time to recover.
Request an Appointment at the Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If bone spurs are making activities difficult for you, let us help you get back to doing the things you love.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.