Osteophytes or bone spur are bones that grow protruding out of the body that appear at the meeting place of both bones or joints. Generally, osteophytes form around the joints that experience osteoarthritis, which is a condition that causes the bones to become stiff and painful. Some cases of osteophytes tend not to show certain symptoms so they are often not detected for years
Osteophytic bone growth is most common in the area of the neck, shoulders, knees, lower back, legs or heels, and fingers or thumb. Osteophytic or bone spur treatment will depend on the location and how severe this condition affects the patient’s daily life.
Most cases of osteophytes are caused by local inflammation that occurs due to joint damage that originates with osteoarthritis or tendinitis. This condition stimulates the body’s cells that eventually form bone spur around areas of the bone that have been damaged in the bearing of the cartilage in order to improve the condition of the bones damaged by certain medical conditions.
For example inflammation that occurs in the Achilles tendon can cause osteophytes to grow on the back of the heel bone and pain when walking. In addition to osteoarthritis, osteophytes can also be caused by arthritis in the spine. This condition is also called ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of Osteophytes
Most cases of osteophytes do not cause symptoms. This condition is usually found when an x-ray is examined for other diseases. However, some cases of osteophytes can also cause the sufferer to feel pain and unable to move the joints. Other symptoms can vary according to the location of osteophytic bone growth, including:
Bone spur in spine
Spine – Numbness in the area of the arm or leg due to osteophytic bone growth which narrows the space where the spinal cord clamps the nerves or roots of the spine.
Bone spur in hip
Waist – Limited waist movement and pain when the patient tries to move the waist.
Bone spur in knee
Knee – Difficulty and pain when trying to bend or straighten your legs due to obstruction of the movement of bones and tendons connected to the knee.
Bone spur in shoulder
Shoulder – Swelling (tendinitis) and erosion or tear of the shoulder socket that protects the shoulder joint (rotator cuff) causes limited movement of the shoulder.
Bone spur in finger
Fingers – The prominent joints of the fingers resemble lumps and feel hard.
Bone spur in neck
Neck – Needle-like pain and numbness in the hand due to pinched nerves.
Patients with osteophytes are likely to be referred to a rheumatologist (doctor of internal disorders of joint disorders) after the general practitioner analyzes and ensures the symptoms to osteophytes. Physical examination is done to ascertain the symptoms of osteophytes and show the area of pain is by checking for the presence of bone protrusions in the joints and surrounding areas. A motion test involving joint movements and muscle strength can be done to measure its strength.
In addition, imaging tests using X-ray, ultrasound, and myelograms are also possible to get a clear picture of the bones and joints affected by osteophytes. MRI scans can also be done to see the details of torn tendons.
Treatment of Osteophytes
Bone spur treatment will depends on the symptoms of the condition. Our orthopaedic specialist will advise patient
Osteophytes can be treated with medication or undergo a surgical procedure to reduce inflammation and prevent recurrence of injury. Osteophytes that cause swelling with pain can be relieved by the administration of painkillers. Meanwhile, osteophytes that cause limited movement of certain body parts or stressed certain nerves will require surgical treatment. This procedure can also be done to treat osteophytes which affect the performance of the waist, knees, or joints at the bottom of the thumb. Discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of a surgical procedure before deciding to do so.
A physiotherapist can help people with osteophytes undergo a series of physical exercises to strengthen muscles and increase the movement of areas of the body affected by this condition. For patients with osteophytes who have excess weight (obesity), losing weight to the ideal point will be very helpful in reducing the tension and pressure felt by the joints.
Some assistive devices, such as shoe inserts, or footwear for footwear can be used to facilitate the daily activities of osteophytic patients.
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