A bone spur, also called an osteophyte, is a bony growth which forms on normal bone. A bone spur is usually smooth but may be visible. Common places for bone spurs include the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet. Most bone spurs do not cause any symptoms. Symptoms which do occur depend on where the bone spur is located. When the bone spurs occur on a joint like the knee, hip or shoulder, symptoms may include pain when moving the joint, limited movement, and swelling. When bone spurs occur on the spine, symptoms may include weakness or numbness in your arms or legs. In general, bone spurs can cause wear and tear or pain if it presses or rubs on other bones or soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, or nerves in the body. In rare cases, a bone spur can break off from the bone and become “loose bodies”. These bodies can get stuck in joints and stop you from being able to move properly.
A bone spur forms as a response to pressure, rubbing or stress. The most common cause of bone spurs is osteoarthritis. Bone spurs can form on the feet from the stress of dancing or running or to pressure from being overweight or from poorly fitting shoes. Athletes and painters are at an increased risk for developing bone spurs on the shoulder. Diagnosis is made by a physical exam (a doctor may be able to feel the bone spur), X-rays or other imaging tests. Treatment may include over-the-counter pain relievers, though in some cases surgery may be recommended. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with bone spurs, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options.