The 101 of Bone Spur – What Is a Bone Spur?

Overview – What is a Bone Spur

Otherwise referred to as parrot beak or osteophyte, a bone spur is a bony projection commonly found along joint margins. It is also described a bony growth that forms on a normal bone. With that being said, it is important to mention that this is just an extra bone and not a sharp object that appears like a “spur”.


Bone spurs are normally very smooth and to a large extent harmless. However, when they press or rub against soft tissues or adjacent bones, that is when they cause pain or at the very least wear and tear. Needless to mention, at such a point in time, some effective remedy must be taken since the condition can be quite uncomfortable.

Areas where bone spurs are Common

 

  • Shoulders

  • Feet

  • Spine – next to degenerated discs

  • Heel bone of the foot

  • In joints with worn out cartilage

Heel Bone Spur

Heel Bone Spur

Causes of Bone Spurs

 Generally, osteophytes form as a result of  a natural process where the body repairs itself. This it does by building some extra bone through a process that involves stress, rubbing, and/or pressure that goes on for an extended period of time.

 

  1. Some bone spurs will form as a result of the natural aging process. Aging is an inevitable part of life. During the natural aging process, the cartilage (i.e. the slippery tissue that covers joints) will start to break down and ultimately wear off completely. This is what leads to osteoarthritis).

 

Further, the discs that normally give cushioning in between bones tend to break down as the aging process kicks in. This results to swelling accompanied by pain, and sometimes the formation of bone spurs along the edges of bone joints. As such, age-related bone spurs are mostly common in joints of the feet and spine.

  1. Any activity that exerts unnecessary pressure and stress on the feet can also cause osteophytes. Running on a hard surface and dancing are some of the most common activities.

 

For instance, excessive pressure at the back of the heel that comes from wearing high heeled shoes that are very tight, or those that are not well padded, can also lead to this condition, commonly referred to as heel spurs.

 

  1. Shoulders are also a common site for this medical condition. Naturally, the shoulder joint can move in different directions thanks to its multifaceted structure. With time, however, the surrounding muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons may wear against each other, after which they will start moving through the narrow space between the upper arm and shoulder.

 

This process can have the tendons rubbing against the bones, thus leading to the formation of spurs. Once the spurs form, it can lead to inflammation, irritation, weakness, stiffness, pain, and at times wear and tear of the tendons.

Symptoms of the Condition

The most amazing thing about bone spurs is that so many people suffer from it without ever knowing. This is because the condition rarely manifests itself in most people. However, once they start pressing on the soft tissues and/or bones, or cause a tendon or muscle to rub, no doubt the tissue will be broken down over time. This often leads to tearing, swelling, inflammation and pain.

Conclusion

Like any other medical condition, it is always recommended that you seek treatment as soon as possible. This way, the right diagnosis will be made and the right treatment started off immediately to avoid further complications that may necessitate surgery. The good news is that there are effective remedies that can help correct the situation without resorting to invasive solutions.