More commonly known as bone spurs, osteophytic spurs are bony outgrowths that develop in or near joints and connective tissue as a result of pressure, stress 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.
Osteophytic spurs on inside joints such as the knee, hip and spinal joints, 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, can 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:
- Localized pain
- Pain that radiates into the extremities
- Decreased range of motion
- A sensation that something is stopping or blocking an affected joint
- Decreased blood flow
If spinal osteophytic spurs are causing you such symptoms, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help. Our team of orthopedic surgeons has the most advanced surgical technology at its disposal, and the minimally invasive procedures that we offer are performed in an outpatient setting. You can find relief from pain and other symptoms with one of these procedures, which are more effective alternatives to traditional open back surgery.