More commonly known as bone spurs, osteophytic spurs are bony outgrowths that develop in or near joints and connective tissue as a result of stress, pressure, or arthritic degeneration. They are not themselves painful or even harmful, but if they come into contact with nerves, muscles, or other soft tissue, they can cause pain, restrict movement, and perhaps even further injury to the affected area. But where do they come from?
Osteophytic spurs can result from a number of causes. They can develop in areas in which a bone – for example, the heel bone – is under significant prolonged pressure. The so-called “pump bump” that some women develop is an example of such a heel spur developing, as many women’s shoes are very tight around the back of the heel. Locations in which a bone is under stress by a ligament can similarly develop osteophytic spurs.
Inside joints such as the knee, hip, and spinal joints, osteophytic spurs generally develop as the result of injuries or degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis. In such cases, the degeneration of cartilage, the added strain put on the bones within the joint, or both, may stimulate abnormal bone growth, which leads to the knobby bone outcroppings known as osteophytic spurs.
Symptoms and Treatment
Generally speaking, osteophytic spurs are not painful or harmful. It is very common, in fact, for some people to develop bone spurs that never present symptoms or cause any problems whatsoever. It is when the spurs compress a nerve, irritate the spinal cord, or affect muscles or other soft tissues that symptoms such as the following result:
- Decreased range of motion
- A sensation that something is stopping or blocking the joint
- Decreased blood flow
If spinal osteophytic spurs are causing you such symptoms, Laser Spine Institute (LSI) may be able to help. Our team of orthopedic surgeons has the most advanced endoscopic laser treatment technology at its disposal, and the procedures we employ are usually performed in an outpatient setting. You can have your pain and other symptoms treated and be back to your active lifestyle within a matter of days – not weeks or months, as is the case with open back surgery.
If you are suffering from pain and other symptoms caused by osteophytic spurs in your spine, contact LSI today.