If you're among the 50% of Americans who experience back pain each year, you understand how debilitating it can be.
There are plenty of medical terms that can explain your back pain, but finding information that's easy to understand can be challenging. This article is going to introduce you to a common trigger for back pain, bone spurs.
If you want to know what are bone spurs and how you can treat them, read on.
What Is a Bone Spur?
The medical term for a bone spur is osteophyte. What this means is an abnormal bone growth along the sides of the healthy bone. Bones are necessary for supporting the body, but anytime bone grows where it doesn't belong, it can cause extreme discomfort.
Bone spurs can occur anywhere throughout the skeleton, but there are a few common places where you're more likely to develop them. They tend to grow on the edges of bones where two bones meet, which is on a joint. Other places where muscles, ligaments, or tendons connect with bone are likely to develop them.
Most people complain of pain caused by bone spurs in the following areas:
- Lower back
- Feet (usually the heel)
Bone spurs look like hard bumps. Someone can have them without even noticing. The only time you'll feel pain is when they rub against other bones, tissues, or nerves.
What Causes Bone Spurs?
Have you ever broken a bone before? It's amazing how the body can repair something as hard as bone in a matter of weeks. While our bodies are great at restoring damaged places to full health, some injuries can lead to the growth of bone spurs.
Some injuries like a trauma to the bone can damage the connective tissues around the bones, but not the bones themselves. Sometimes the body can mistake a bone bruise for a fracture, so it directs the bones to grow new cells. This additional growth is essentially a bone spur.
You don't have to suffer from an injury to develop them, sometimes the natural aging process can wear down your body creating bone spurs.
Arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints' ability to move. There are different kinds of arthritis, and all of them have the capability of causing bone spurs.
Osteoarthritis is the most widespread type of arthritis. More than 1 in 10 Americans suffer from it. Osteoarthritis causes joint inflammation that deflates the cushioning between your bones, which can be most drastic in the spine.
Overusing a body part can lead to bone spurs, like running or typing. Poor diet and obesity can put excess strain on your bones, which causes bone overgrowth.
If you have an autoimmune disease like lupus or genetics that predispose you to bone problems, you're also at risk.
Bone Spur Symptoms
Though pain is an obvious symptom of bone spurs, other less-obvious symptoms may be present. Sometimes, you may not have any symptoms. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis:
- Pain surrounding one joint
- Stiffness in the affected joint during movement
- Muscle spasms and weakness
- Bumpiness on the skin directly above bone (like the shin)
- Bone spurs on the spine can cause numbness and tingling that radiates down the arms and legs
- Incontinence in cases where spinal cord nerves are damaged
If you don't have any symptoms with your bone spurs, then they are relatively harmless. However, it is worth noting than any bone spur has the potential to chip off and get caught in soft tissues. When this occurs, surgery is often recommended to restore full movement of the affected area.
How Are Bone Spurs Diagnosed?
You only have to seek medical attention if your bone spurs are causing you pain. Your doctor will ask you to explain your symptoms and test the strength of the joints and muscles that are in question. If they do suspect a bone spur, they'll order an x-ray to visualize any bone growths.
If your injuries are more severe, a CT or MRI scan may be required to get a full visualization of the tissues and bones to see how extensive the damage is.
Bone Spur Treatment Options
If you suffer from pain, you'll want to know how to remove bone spurs. There are many different kinds of treatments that don't require surgery. However, depending on your pain, you may opt for the surgical route.
Anti-inflammatory medication commonly used to treat arthritis is a great way to reduce pain. Physical therapy can also strengthen your muscles and increase the mobility of the affected joints.
If yours occur in the feet or legs, wearing special shoe inserts can help take the strain off of your bones.
If these noninvasive treatments don't offer you relief, surgery is an option worth discussing. If your doctor decides that the procedure is appropriate, they will remove the bone spurs to restore the bone to its natural shape.
If the surrounding joints sustained heavy damage, your surgeon might recommend a joint-replacement procedure.
Is There Any Way to Prevent Them?
Bone spurs are an unfortunate but very common side effect of aging. You could live a healthy lifestyle but still develop them from the wear and tear on your body.
Forming healthy diet and exercise habits is the best way to prevent bone overgrowths and all other health problems. Incorporating 30 minutes of walking or yoga into your daily routine can work wonders for your pain management and prevention.
Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide your body with the proper nutrients it needs to fight illnesses.
Ready to Eliminate Your Back Pain?
Anyone who is suffering from back pain wants to find the best medical team to treat their bone spurs or any other back conditions. Comprehensive Spine Institute is here to help you start your journey to pain-free living.
If you have any questions about our services or want more information about the causes of your back pain, please contact us.