Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are bony projections that grow on existing bone. The medical terminology for bone spurs is osteophyte. Osteophytes often form where bones meet each other — in your joints. They can also form on the bones of your spine. The main cause of bone spurs is the joint damage associated with chronic inflammation seen in osteoarthritis. Bone spurs are typically a result of stress and chronic inflammation in the body. Most bone spurs cause no symptoms and can go undetected for years.


Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms. You might not realize you have bone spurs until you have an X-ray. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion in your joints.

Specific symptoms depend on where the bone spurs are. Examples:

  • Knee- Bone spurs in your knee can make it painful to straighten or bend your leg.
  • Spine- On your vertebrae, bone spurs can narrow the space that contains your spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. These bone spurs can pinch the nerves causing weakness or numbness in your arms or legs.
  • Hip- Bone spurs can make it painful to move your hip. Depending on their placement, bone spurs can reduce the range of motion in your hip joint.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have pain or swelling in one or more joints or if you have difficulty moving a joint.

People Also Ask

Can a bone spur go away on its own?

A bone spur can go away on it’s own. The body can do amazing things to heal itself. However, this is not the case for most people.

What does a bone spur feel like?

If you have a bone spur on your heel (calcaneous) it can feel like you’re stepping on a rock. This pain can be a dull pain which causes you to alter your gait (the way you walk or move) or it can be a very sharp pain when it’s on your heel. You may have incidentally discovered you have a bone spur on an x-ray and feel no pain. You can get them in your spine or in your extremity joints like toes, knees, shoulder, etc.

How do you know if you have a bone spur?

The only way to know for sure that you have a bone spur is to have that region x-rayed. Typically, a bone spur is effect rather than the cause of an underlying condition.

How do you treat bone spurs?

When pain is intolerable a bone spur may be removed surgically. Typically, bone spurs are left alone, unless the patient truly does have pain originating from the bone spur itself.