What are bone spurs?
Our bodies change with age, and our joints are no exception.
Dr. Bradley John Zarling, an orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group in Downers Grove, Ill., breaks down what you need to know about bone spurs.
“Your bones are put under pressure when cartilage wears out around the hips, knees and shoulders,” explains Dr. Zarling. “Bone spurs occur when the body responds by making more bone to try and distribute the pressure and stabilize the joint.”
Bone spurs are typically the result of another underlying joint disease like arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis, which occurs from the normal wear and tear of joints over time. Other types of arthritis, like post-traumatic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, could also be the culprit.
People in their 60s and 70s are more likely to have deteriorating joints. Oftentimes, if you experience bone spurs in one joint, you’ll find them in others.
“We don’t necessarily treat the bone spurs; instead, we treat the underlying joint disease,” shared Dr. Zarling. “Treatment can include medication, like Tylenol or other anti-inflammatories, and injections to calm down the inflammation. There are also surgical options like joint replacement.”
They are not always painful, but if you’re experiencing pain, it’s best to talk to your primary care doctor for an initial evaluation. Your doctor can refer you to an orthopedic specialist if needed.
“As we get older, we all experience some degree of deteriorating joint disease where cartilage wears out,” notes Dr. Zarling. “But maintaining a healthy weight and exercising can help reduce your risk.”
About the Author
Elizabeth Blasko is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She studied public relations and nonprofit leadership at Western Michigan University. Elizabeth previously worked at Bernie's Book Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing book ownership among underserved children.