A bone spur is a bone that grows on another bone and also in bone joints. Bone spurs by themselves are not painful, as they often appear when joints are affected by osteoarthritis and, by adding extra bone, attempt to repair the damage. When the body overcompensates and the area accumulates calcium, bone spurs occur. If they encroach on nerves and other bones, this may cause discomfort. Bone spurs are common among people over the age of 60 and can be indicative of spinal degeneration.
Symptoms and Causes
The joints in the hand are one of the primary targets of bone spurs, most commonly occurring in the finger joints and the wrist. Because the hands have less body fat, the bony growth in the joints is quite visible and easy to diagnose, often appearing as hard lumps as the bone spur tries to repair damage to the joint. This bone spur can make the joint painful and stiff. Although bone spurs are primarily the result of osteoarthritis, they can also result from injury or trauma to the area.
Often bone spurs are detected when a doctor x-rays for other conditions. Common types of x-rays are: standard x-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. In the case of bone spurs in the hand, although they are highly visible, an x-ray will still be done prior to any treatment.
Strategies for managing the discomfort of a bone spur often depend on how it impacts the quality of your life. Although bone spurs can be surgically removed, doctors often initially try less invasive treatments. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy are often the first courses of treatment and can be quite effective. Corticosteroid injections into the joint can also ease the symptoms. Normally, as a last resort, surgical repair or replacement of the affected joint becomes necessary and, in the last several years, has enjoyed success.
Exercise that emphasizes range of motion and strength training is essential to healthy bones. A healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains aids in eliminating inflammation in the body. Prevention is always the preferable route when it comes to your health.