What are Bone Spurs?

Bone SpursMuch like a car or other sophisticated mechanical device, the human body endures wear and tear from continual use over time. Along with the natural aging process, degenerative conditions like arthritis can develop in the body’s joints, which connect the bones and allow the body to move freely. Each joint is lined with cartilage, a protective tissue that allows the bones within to glide smoothly over one another. Arthritis can cause the joint surfaces to progressively deteriorate, resulting in joint inflammation.

Unlike a machine, the human body has a remarkable ability to heal and attempt to repair itself. For instance, in response to arthritis, the body may produce bony deposits to protect an inflamed joint by preventing excess movement. Known as bone spurs, these deposits often conjure up an image of something sharp or jagged, but they are actually smooth and rounded.

Bone spurs are not always painful, and when symptoms do occur, they can vary based on the location of the bony deposit. Common locations include the:

  • Spine – Bone spurs that form on the spinal vertebrae can encroach on the spinal canal, a narrow space that houses the spinal cord and a series of nerve roots. If this sensitive nerve tissue becomes “pinched” by a bone spur, pain, numbness, and weakness may radiate down the arms or legs.
  • Knee – Bony growths in a knee joint can impede the bones and tendons that operate the knee, making it painful to bend and extend the leg.
  • Hip – Depending on their placement, bone spurs in a hip joint can reduce range of motion and create pain in the hip joint or immediately below in the knee joint.
  • Shoulder – Excess bony deposits in a shoulder joint can rub against the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that help control shoulder movement, and lead to swelling (tendinitis) and possibly rotator cuff tears.
  • Fingers – Appearing as hard lumps under the skin, bone spurs can make the finger joints feel painful and swollen.

It’s always best to see a doctor if you are experiencing joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, no matter how minor it may seem. Early treatment for arthritis can prevent the condition from progressing and creating further joint damage.

If you would like to consult with a doctor about arthritis or other medical conditions, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by a doctor who is experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of common health conditions.