Just the name “bone spurs” sounds like a condition that’s far from fun. But is it serious? That depends, and we’ll get into talking about factors that make bone spurs more concerning later in the blog post.
Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony growths that develop on the bones near your joints. They can emerge in many places on your body, but the knees, shoulders, hips, and heels are common sites, as well as the spine.
Dr. Struan Coleman’s years of experience treating professional athletes allowed him to see many patients suffering with spurs, and the treatments he offers are an essential part of his larger range of services. He and his caring team go to great lengths to ensure that you receive the correct diagnosis; excellent, innovative treatment options; and long-term support.
Bone spurs: Who do they affect, and what are their symptoms?
Usually bone spurs strike people 60 and over, because they’re caused primarily by osteoarthritis. The damage done by this condition includes breakdown of the cushiony cartilage between your bones. Conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to deterioration and bone spurs.
You’re more prone to bone spurs if you engage in certain sports or activities like ballet dancing, if you live with obesity, or if you’re genetically predisposed. Over 40% of people develop bone spur symptoms and require medical treatment to get relief.
You can be unaware of your bone spurs — until you experience noticeable symptoms. These include stiffness and pain when the spur compresses a nerve or rubs against your bone, as well as: .
- Limited range of movement
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble moving or bending your affected joint, and pain and stiffness when you try
- Arm or leg tingling or loss of sensation if the bone spurs lie on spinal nerve roots
- Visible lumps, usually when bone spurs are on your fingers or hands
- Tendon tears
Unfortunately, exercise can exacerbate bone spur symptoms, and a spur can even break off and lodge itself in your joint’s lining, a phenomenon known as “loose body.” When this happens, it can make it impossible to move your joint altogether.
How are bone spurs diagnosed?
Dr. Coleman is nothing if not thorough, so he examines you, learns all he can about your history of pain, activities you engage in, and other pertinent lifestyle factors, and typically orders imaging tests in order to see what’s going on. If he diagnoses you with bone spurs, he creates a treatment plan customized to you.
We believe that if you’re in pain and your movement is limited, this qualifies as a serious concern. Even though spurs can cause no symptoms, once they do, it’s time to seek treatment.
What treatment options do I have for bone spurs?
Initially Dr. Coleman starts with conservative treatments, like over-the-counter pain relievers, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen combined with rest. Weight loss can also ease bone spur symptoms.
Steroid shots can help by addressing both swelling and pain, while physical therapy builds your strength and improves your range of movement.
If these treatments don’t bring you sufficient relief, Dr. Coleman may recommend a surgical solution. The procedure he performs is determined by where your bone spur is located, and his first choice is always to perform minimally invasive surgery, which is associated with faster healing and less pain, bleeding, and scarring.
For shoulder bone spurs, Dr. Coleman may perform shoulder arthroscopy, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that’s a two-part process. First he explores your bone spur, and next, he removes it. Bone spur removal may also be part of rotator cuff surgery, which allows extra space at your shoulder joint so you can move better.
If you have a bone spur in your knee, then knee arthroscopy might be the best choice. If the problem is in your hip, hip arthroscopy allows for removal of loose bodies from bone spurs.
The arthroscopy procedure gets its name from the tool used to perform it — an arthroscope. It’s a very small fiber optic camera that’s on a thin, bendable tube. This design allows the tube and camera to enter easily through a small incision, and gives Dr. Coleman the ability to see clearly and closely what’s happening in the area of the bone spur. Then he can remove it and do any repair work necessary with the least amount of trauma possible.
If you’d like to learn more about bone spur treatment, call any of our locations to schedule a consultation, or contact us online.