Bone spurs can be a painful nuisance for many people, particularly athletes. They can also be an important indicator of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis.
While surgical options exist for the removal of bone spurs, it’s not always the first resort. In fact, the majority of bone spur cases are successfully treated and managed with conservative management, which usually involves medications and injections.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the natural and conservative treatments for bone spurs, as well as when surgery becomes necessary.
What are bone spurs?
Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are small growths that form in bone and attach to the bone. They commonly occur in the joints where bones meet together. They may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a small pebble.
The type of bone spurs treatment right for you will depend on a number of factors, such as the size and location of the bone spur in question.
Bone spurs can be found in a variety of areas, including the:
- Hands and Fingers
The symptoms of bone spurs can include pain in the affected area, difficulty walking if they’re present in the foot, and difficulty moving the affected joint. Bone spurs don’t always pose problems, but if they exert pressure on nerves or rub against other bones, they will be accompanied by pain and stiffness.
Causes of Bone Spurs
There are some common causes of bone spurs, which include joint damage from osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Lupus and gout have also been known to cause bone spurs.
An injury to a joint or tendon can also cause a bone spur, because when your body thinks a bone is damaged, it attempts to repair itself by growing bone.
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears away over time. Bone spurs occur because, as mentioned above, the body attempts to repair itself by adding bone to the affected area, which can cause problems.
Natural and conservative bone spur remedies
There are numerous ways to address the pain and discomfort associated with bone spurs, and surgery is not typically the first response.
For starters, OTC pain relievers can help reduce pain associated with bone spurs. These include:
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)
- Advil (ibuprofen)
- Aleve (naproxen sodium)
However, OTC pain relievers can cause complications if used for extended periods of time, especially if taken in high doses. For example, heavy usage of acetaminophen is associated with liver damage.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against the use of acetaminophen for more than ten days without a doctor’s recommendation.
OTC pain relievers are typically used in In combination with natural conservative treatment, such as:
- Physical therapy
- Ice packs to reduce swelling
- Customized footwear
- Massage therapy
In addition, OTC pain relievers and physical therapy don’t typically provide enough pain relief for patients with more serious cases of bone spurs. In these situations, alternative treatments will include steroidal injections to reduce inflammation, and physical therapy to improve mobility and strength.
Even if your doctor is recommending surgery to remove bone spurs, if you’re considering other non-surgical options, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about your options before making any decisions.
Potential complications of bone repair surgery
While surgery to remove bone spurs can be an effective treatment, it can also cause complications. Heel spur surgery, for example, may cause complications such as nerve damage, permanent numbness, and infection.
Endoscopic heel surgery has a high success rate, but any surgical procedure comes with risks. Before undergoing any procedure, speak to your doctor about your specific concerns.