Bone Spurs (Osteophytes)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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How are bone spurs diagnosed?

Bone spurs are detected by radiologic testing, such as with plain X-rays, ultrasound imaging, MRI scan, CT scan, and myelograms.

What is the treatment for bone spurs?

Bone spurs are treated only if they are causing symptoms. Initial treatment is directed toward decreasing inflammation and avoiding reinjury when possible. Local cold application can help when the location of the bone spur is accessible. Anti-inflammatory medications, administered both orally and by local injection (Kenalog, Depomedrol, Celestone), are commonly used, depending on the location of the spur. Local mechanical measures, such as orthotics, or shoe inserts, and local bone spur pads might be considered, depending on the location of the bone spur. Bone spurs that are causing irritation of nerves, tendons or ligaments and that are resistant to conservative measures can require surgical operations for treatment.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for bone spurs?

Bone spurs that are not associated with symptoms may never cause problems and do not require treatment. The outlook for bone spurs causing symptoms varies. Bone spurs can cause mild symptoms or be severely disabling, especially if they are directly irritating nerves.

Can bone spurs be prevented?

There are no means of preventing bone spurs.

Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2015

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