What Causes Bone Spurs?

By: Corwin Brown

Bone spur is a term used to describe a condition that characterizes the growth of an extra bone on the normal bone. In medical terms, it is known as osteophytes. Bone spur usually takes place on the joints of the spine, feet, shoulders, hips, hands and knees. It is not painful but sometimes causes pain when it rubs against other bones around it.

A bone spur is an overgrowth of bone most commonly seen at a joint (the place where two bones come together and allow for movement). Generally abnormal motion at the level of the joint over the course of time will cause the spur to form. You can also have spurring of bone as a result of excessive tension on a bone from a tendon where it attaches into the bone.

Some bone spurs form as part of the aging process. As we age, the slippery tissue called cartilage that covers the ends of the bones within joints breaks down and eventually wears away (osteoarthritis). In addition, the discs that provide cushioning between the bones of the spine may break down with age. Over time, this leads to pain and swelling and, in some cases, bone spurs forming along the edges of the joint. Bone spurs due to aging are especially common in the joints of the spine and feet.

Exercise and a healthy weight are key ingredients to managing the pain associated with bone spurs. Exercise may be limited by the location of the spur and its effects on movement. Swimming or other forms of water activity, such as water aerobics, may be less stressful for the body, and can also increase flexibility and mobility. Weight loss can also be beneficial in alleviating the pain associated with bone spurs, since less weight puts less stress on any joints which are lacking cartilage or plagued with bone spurs.

Bone spurs do not appear at once but form gradually over a long period of time. They represent degeneration of the spine due to aging and are quite common in people above sixty years of age. While spinal degeneration occurs in all people, less than half of those report pain in the neck, back, arms and legs (radiating pain), and other extremities of the body. Also associated with bone spurs is the feeling of weakness.?

In your shoulder, bone spurs can restrict the range of motion of your arm. Bone spurs can rub on your rotator cuff; a group of tendons that help control your shoulder movements. This can cause swelling (tendinitis) and tears in your rotator cuff.

Bone spurs also form in the feet in response to tight ligaments, to activities such as dancing and running that put stress on the feet, and to pressure from being overweight or from poorly fitting shoes. For example, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) can become stressed or tight and pull on the heel, causing the ligament to become inflamed (plantar fasciitis. As the bone tries to mend itself, a bone spur can form on the bottom of the heel (known as a "heel spur"). Pressure at the back of the heel from frequently wearing shoes that are too tight can cause a bone spur on the back of the heel. This is sometimes called a "pump bump" because it is often seen in women who wear high heels.

First step for treating bone spur through home remedies is to reduce inflammation. Apply an ice pack to the inflamed area 4 to 5 times in a day. This will help to reduce the inflammation. If the problem is more severe then apply heating pad on the inflamed area.

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