A Closer Look at Bone Spurs

A Closer Look at Bone Spurs

Bone spurs can occur in your spine, hands, hips, knees, and shoulders, but your feet, heels, and ankles are especially susceptible. These growths, called osteophytes, develop on healthy bone tissue and jut out from the surface. They can cause intense pain in many cases.

When you’re looking for relief from bone spurs, Dr. Bryan King at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute, one of Alabama’s leading orthopedic surgeons, expertly treats problematic bone spurs and a full spectrum of musculoskeletal issues. Here, he takes a closer look at bone spurs, their causes, and the treatments that get rid of the pain for good.

Understanding bone spurs

Wherever bones meet in a joint, there’s a potential for a bone spur to develop. Your risk increases as you age because the cartilage in your joint wears down over time and leaves your bones to rub together.

This condition, called osteoarthritis, creates the ideal environment for the development of bone spurs, but any type of injury that affects your joints, such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis, can also trigger an outgrowth of bone.

When you develop a bone spur, it’s actually your body’s defense mechanism kicking in and trying to heal the damage of your osteoarthritis or other injury. The inflammation sets off a cellular repair response that generates extra bone tissue.

Bone spur symptoms

Not all bone spurs are painful or symptomatic, but when they are, they can be so painful that it’s difficult — or even impossible — to walk. Technically, the bone spur itself isn’t painful. You hurt because of the pressure the spur puts on nearby tissues and the resulting irritation. 

If you have a bone spur, you can expect to feel:

Bone spurs may also lead to secondary conditions, such as tendinitis or a tendon tear if the bony outgrowth rubs against it. 

Treatment for bone spurs

The good news is that most bone spurs don’t require extensive treatment. Often, all that’s needed to relieve your bone spur-related pain are a few conservative methods.

Cold therapy and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may reduce the inflammation in the neighboring nerves and tissues enough to stop the pain.

We may also recommend shoe orthotics to provide extra cushioning and support for your bone spur so it stops putting pressure on your nerves.

If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can go a long way toward relieving your bone spur pain. 

If these conservative treatments don’t bring enough relief, we may offer you a corticosteroid injection to accelerate the reduction of inflammation in the area. In severe cases where the pain is chronic and won’t respond to other treatments, Dr. King may remove the bone spur surgically.

If you have a bone spur that’s causing you pain, come see Dr. King for an expert diagnosis and effective treatment that will have you waltzing through the holidays pain-free. To schedule an appointment, call our friendly staff at 205-391-4440 today. 

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