What is a Bone Spur?

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“Bone spurs” is a term thrown around by doctors a lot. What do we actually know about it? We know it’s not good for you, what else?

A bone spur, termed osteophyte, is a bony growth formed on normal bone. The word spur is used to describe the extra growth; it can actually be smooth, instead of sharp. The extra bone growth forms in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a long period of time. The body recognises the stress and wear and tear, and tries to repair itself by laying down more bones. Common places for bone spurs include the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet, because of aging/degeneration, injuries, or repetitive motion and prolonged posture.

Many people have bone spurs without ever knowing it, because most bone spurs cause no symptoms. But if the bone spurs are pressing on other bones or tissues or are causing a muscle or tendon to rub, they can break that tissue down over time, causing swelling, pain, and tearing. If the bone spur is pressing on a nerve it will cause numbness, tingling or sharp pain over a larger area of the body.

At early stages of bone spur formation, it is not noticeable and can be easily overlooked. It’s similar to a blocking artery; you feel nothing as it accumulates, and when it finally blocks/presses on an important structure, it is serious and very difficult to treat.

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