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Osteophyte is a medical term used to describe bone spurs. The extra bone that grows on the body due to different reasons causes extra pressure on the normal bone structure.

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Let’s have a look at osteophytes and their implications in the following paragraphs.

What are Osteophytes?

The small growth of extra bone on the surface of a normal bone is called as osteophyte or bone spur. It is also called as a parrots beak. These spurs grow on the edges of the bones, often near the bone joints. These growths also occur in the bones of the spine. In many cases, these growths go undetected for many years and in some, these spurs require treatment as they cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

The wear and tear of the joint surface lead to the formation of these osteophytes. These spurs cause pain and limit joint movement. When these growths occur in the spine, they are usually due to degeneration of the spinal bones. These spurs do cause a lot of pain, numbness, tingling in different parts of the body, due to pressure on the different nerves running through the affected spine.

Osteophytes can also appear on the hands, knees, feet, shoulders, arms, ribs and ankles. Apart from wear and tear, bone spurs occur as a result of other health conditions like a bone infection.

Symptoms of Osteophyte

Many people never develop any sign or symptom of bone spur. They realize they have a bone spur when they take an X-ray for an unrelated condition.

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Some may suffer from symptoms, according to their location that includes:

  • Pain in the knees along with limitation of movement. It becomes difficult to bend and extend the leg.
  • Pain the hips that radiates down to the knee and limits the range of motion.
  • Pain in the spine, neck and numbness and tingling in the arms or legs due to bone spurs in the spinal cord.
  • Swelling, pain, limitation in range of motion of shoulder as the rotator cuff gets affected.
  • Pain, knobby appearance of fingers due to bone spurs.
  • Radiating pain in the arm and legs.
  • Weakness of the extremities.
  • Headache, pain in the buttocks and thighs
  • Muscle weakness

Causes of Osteophytes

There are many causes of bone spurs that includes:

  • Aging causes the wear and tear of joints and ligaments. This causes the body to try and hold the ligaments and bones together by repairing the damaged area. This causes the formation of new bone around the joints causing pressure on the normal bone structure.
  • Disc and joint wear and tear leading to their degeneration
  • Injuries that cause joint fractures
  • Poor posture
  • Lack of nutrition in diet
  • Heredity conditions
  • Structural problems from birth
  • Medical conditions like arthritis, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis

Diagnosis of Osteophyte

Many times, during a physical examination, the doctor can feel the bone spur. At times, when the spur cannot be felt physically, an X-ray of the bones may be ordered.  

Treatment for Osteophyte

Bone spurs generally does not cause any pain or discomfort. Thus, no treatment is required. However, if it leads to pain, the doctor will prescribe some over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and NSAID’s. If it limits the range of motion of the joint, surgical removal may be an option.

Osteophyte is not a very serious condition as long as it does not cause problems with the joint movement. If you feel pain or swelling near your joint, speak to your doctor. Medications may help you overcome the pain and swelling due to bone spurs.

Written by: healthplus24.com

Date last updated: February 17, 2015

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