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What Are Bone Spurs?

The bones that make up your skeleton are a lot like the “bones” that make up a building. When a human body and a building are formed, the structural elements are strong and the joints are stable, and they all work together to bear weight with ease. 

Buildings eventually succumb to the effects of time, gravity, and the elements — and the same is true for your body. At some point, your once formidable form begins to deteriorate and problems develop. 

Dr. John Bassell and our team of experts at Nebben Physical Medicine in Clarksville, Tennessee, specialize in helping you repair your dilapidated, damaged bones and relieve painful symptoms. 

To help you understand bone spurs, one of the lesser-known bone problems, here’s everything you need to know about this bone deformity and how you can find relief.

Bone spur basics

Bone spurs — also known as osteophytes — are projections that develop along the edges of your bones and in your joints where they meet other bones. 

Bone spurs can crop up in almost any joint in your body, including your:

You might also develop bone spurs along your spine. 

Causes of bone spurs

Bones spurs are a direct result of cartilage in your joints wearing down. Without cartilage, the ends of your bones rub against each other, causing a variety of symptoms, including pain, stiffness, and bone spurs. 

Bone spurs are a common byproduct of degenerative joints disease and other joint problems like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and gout. 

Virtually anyone can develop bone spurs, but factors that increase your risk include:

In some cases, bone spurs develop after a joint or tendon injury. Your body mistakenly responds to the injury by adding bone that results in a bone spur. 

Symptoms of bone spurs

Fortunately, most bone spurs don’t cause symptoms. In fact, you might never know you have a bone spur unless we take a CT or MRI scan of your bones. But if your bone spur rubs against another bone or presses on your nerves, you could experience symptoms. 

Common warning signs that you have a bone spur include:

It’s rare, but a bone spur pressing on certain nerves can even cause bladder and bowel problems. Bone spurs also can break off and lodge in your joint, restricting joint movement. 

You might notice more intense symptoms with exercise and movement, as you use and put weight on the affected joint. 

Treating your bone spurs

Because bone spurs are usually the result of joint problems like osteoarthritis, we typically begin treatment by addressing the problem behind it. We offer comprehensive osteoarthritis treatments, such as regenerative medicine, K-laser therapy, and joint injections. 

For bone spurs that are particularly bothersome, we recommend over-the-counter pain medication and physical therapy to relieve pain by strengthening your joints. The steroid injections we often use to treat osteoarthritis can relieve the pain caused by bone spurs. 

If your bone spurs are severe and impeding your movement, we may suggest surgical intervention to remove them. 

If you’re concerned about your bone health or if you'd like more information, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone today. 

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