There are many different causes behind the chronic pain you experience. One of these common causes could be bone spurs.
What is a Bone Spur?
Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are extra protrusions that can grow along the edges of bone as well as where bones meet one another. These bone spurs are often smooth but hard. Bone spurs can happen in many different locations throughout the body, though they most commonly occur in joints or places that have extra strain to them. You might develop bone spurs along your feet, shoulders, knees, hips, neck, and even throughout your spine.
While anybody can develop these, there are certain risk factors for bone spurs. Having medical conditions that affect the joints is one of the most common causes behind bone spurs. These conditions include:
- Osteoarthritis—This condition is also known as degenerative joint disease, which describes how the cartilage between the joints breaks down with time and use. This condition causes swelling and pain in the joints. As the joints break down with this condition, the chances of bone spurs developing increases.
- Rheumatoid arthritis—This is another type of arthritis that also impacts the joints. The most common symptoms with RA, which contribute to the risk of developing bone spurs, would be joint swelling, damage to the cartilage between the joints, and chronic pain.
- Lupus—Like with RA, lupus is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body attacks itself by mistake. As a result, the body experiences widespread inflammation that can affect organs as well as joints. Bone spurs are a common co-occurring disorder with lupus as a result of the damage that occurs throughout the body.
- Plantar fasciitis—When the tissue that connects the heel to the toes becomes inflamed, it is known as plantar fasciitis. This is one of the driving causes behind heel pain. Unfortunately, people who have this condition also frequently develop bone spurs in their feet, which only add to the pain that they feel.
- Spinal stenosis—This condition often results in bone spurs in the spine. This is because spinal stenosis describes the narrowing of the spinal column in which the bones are not supported enough and, in turn, can lead to chronic pain.
As these conditions show, bone spurs can develop after somebody experiences damage to parts of the body. This means that being injured or experiencing trauma to a part of the body can increase the chances of developing bone spurs.
It’s also important to note that it’s common to develop bone spurs as you age because of the typical wear and tear that the body goes through. Essentially, the more damage or deterioration there is to the joints, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body, the more of a chance there is for developing osteophytes.
How Are Bone Spurs Diagnosed?
Interestingly, a lot of people who have bone spurs don’t have noticeable symptoms and might stumble upon a diagnosis after getting imaging such as an X-ray or MRI. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause discomfort. Some symptoms of bone spurs would be:
- Joint pain
- Nerve pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Bladder issues
- Stiffness in joints
All of these symptoms can make it challenging to do every-day activities, such as bending, stretching, lifting, and more. Depending on the size and location, bone spurs can rub against its surrounding areas. They can press against nerve endings and impact things like bladder function.
These are all symptoms to mention to your doctor. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort and you are also at risk for developing osteopathies, talk to a trusted medical professional. In addition to taking note of your medical history, they might order imaging to see if you have bone spurs. From there, you can work to get a treatment plan in place for the symptoms you are experiencing.
Do Bone Spurs Go Away?
Many individuals living with bone spurs often wonder if these bony projections can resolve on their own. Bone spurs are your body’s response to changes in the bone’s integrity, often developing due to ongoing stress or as a part of aging. Unfortunately, bone spurs do not typically go away on their own. Once formed, they might remain stable in size or could potentially grow larger depending on various factors such as continued stress or further degeneration of the joint.
Understanding Bone Spurs and Their Progression
Bone spurs are essentially the body’s attempt to fortify the bone surface when it’s compromised. In conditions like osteoarthritis, the loss of cartilage prompts the bone to create more surface area to support the load. These spurs are made of the same material as the bone, and once formed, are permanent without surgical intervention.
Managing Bone Spur Symptoms
While the bone spur itself may not disappear without surgery, the pain and discomfort it causes can often be managed effectively. Anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections are all conservative treatment methods that target the symptoms. These approaches can provide significant relief and improve joint function.
In cases where bone spurs cause persistent pain, restrict movement, or lead to nerve compression and related symptoms, surgical removal may be considered. Surgery aims to alleviate discomfort, improve mobility, and prevent complications related to the spur impinging on surrounding tissues.
Proactive Measures for Bone Health
Maintaining joint health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper footwear can help slow the progression of joint degeneration and may prevent the worsening of bone spurs. For those with arthritis or other joint-affecting conditions, following a tailored treatment plan is crucial in managing the overall health of the joints and potentially minimizing the development of further spurs.
What Can Be Done for Bone Spurs?
The only true “cure” for bone spurs is to have surgery to remove the extra growth. Of course, this is not everyone’s first choice—and it’s definitely not the only option. There are other steps you can take first that might help reduce the pain and discomfort of your bone spurs. Some examples are:
- Take anti-inflammatory medications
- Get steroid shots
- Do physical therapy
All of these things can help to bring down the swelling, stiffness, and irritation related to bone spurs. Before it reaches that point, there are some preventative measures you can take to keep your joints healthy. First, if you have arthritis, make sure you’re working with your doctor to follow an effective treatment plan that will help you to avoid pain and joint damage. If you do not have arthritis but you are still at risk for bone spurs, you can reduce the likelihood of them developing with the right diet and exercise plan.
Plus, ensuring that you have good, supportive footwear can keep your feet in good shape. Similarly, stretching, resting when needed, and strengthening the muscles that support your joints are all methods that can at least buy you some time before you have to worry about bone spurs.
How to Dissolve Bone Spurs Naturally
While natural remedies and lifestyle changes are often sought for various ailments, it’s crucial to understand that bone spurs, or osteophytes, cannot be dissolved or removed naturally. These bony projections are permanent unless surgically removed. However, managing the symptoms and discomfort associated with bone spurs is possible through various natural approaches.
Natural anti-inflammatory agents such as turmeric and ginger can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with bone spurs, but they do not have the capability to dissolve them. Similarly, exercises and physical activities, particularly those that are low-impact like swimming and cycling, can strengthen the muscles around the affected joints, improving flexibility and reducing strain.
A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D supports overall bone health, but it won’t affect existing bone spurs. These nutrients are vital for maintaining bone density and strength. Heat and cold therapy can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation but have no effect on the bone spurs themselves.
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial, especially for bone spurs in weight-bearing areas like the feet, knees, and hips. Reducing stress on these joints can ease the symptoms. Supportive footwear, especially for heel spurs, can make a significant difference in comfort levels during daily activities.
Complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage can offer symptom relief through pain reduction and muscle relaxation, yet they do not impact the bone spurs.
In summary, while various natural methods can help manage the symptoms associated with bone spurs, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what these approaches can achieve. Bone spurs are permanent growths that can only be removed surgically. Nevertheless, these natural management strategies can significantly improve comfort and quality of life for those living with bone spurs.
Keep in mind that it takes time to learn how to best treat your own pain and more time for the techniques to begin working. While you are waiting to see the progress, be sure to connect with others who also have chronic pain through the Pain Resource Community. Here, you’ll find more tips and tricks on managing pain from bone spurs and related conditions.
So, what are the next steps for you? If you suspect that you might have a bone spur that is causing you pain or discomfort, speak to your doctor right away and find the support you need with the chronic pain community by your side.
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