Joint damage due to osteoarthritis is the most common cause of bone spurs. Most bone spurs create no problems and don't need treatment.
Bone spurs are bony projections that develop along bone edges. Bone spurs (osteophytes) often form where bones meet each other — in your joints. They can also form on the bones of your spine.
The main cause of bone spurs is the joint damage associated with osteoarthritis. Most bone spurs cause no symptoms and can go undetected for years. They might not require treatment. If treatment is needed, it depends on where spurs are located and how they affect your health.
Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms. You might not realize you have bone spurs until an X-ray for another condition reveals the growths. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion in your joints.
Specific symptoms depend on where the bone spurs are. Examples include:
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have pain or swelling in one or more joints or if you have difficulty moving a joint.
The hip joint shown on the left side of the image is normal, but the hip joint shown on the right side of the image shows deterioration of cartilage and the formation of bone spurs due to osteoarthritis.
Joint damage from osteoarthritis is the most common cause of bone spurs. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones, your body attempts to repair the loss by creating bone spurs near the damaged area.
The risk of bone spurs is higher in people who have arthritis.
During the physical exam, your doctor might feel around your joint to pinpoint your pain. Your doctor might also order X-rays or other imaging tests to view your joints and bones.
If your bone spurs cause pain, your doctor might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others).
You'll likely first see your family doctor, who might refer you to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of joint disorders (rheumatologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Here are some questions to ask your doctor. Don't hesitate to ask others.
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, including: