An osteophyte, also called a bone spur, is a bony projection that forms along the bone’s edges. It is common where bones connect — in your joints. It may also develop on your spine’s bones.

The primary cause of the osteophyte is joint deterioration caused by osteoarthritis. Most osteophytes are asymptomatic and might go unnoticed for years. They may not need to be treated. If therapy is required, it is determined by the location of the spurs and how they influence your health.


Some individuals have an osteophyte and are entirely unaware of it. Spurs begin to cause symptoms when they:

  • Rub against other tissues or bones.
  • Restrict movement
  • Apply pressure to the nearby nerves.

When this occurs, you may experience some of the following:

  • Legs weakness and numbness if the spine has spurs
  • Reduces motion’s range
  • Tendinitis 
  • Bumpy or knobby areas in the toes and fingers
  • Discomfort in the area of the affected joint, such as heel pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tendon tears


During the physical exam, your physician may feel around the joint to locate the cause of your pain. Your physician may also request imaging tests to observe your bones and joints.


Osteophytes are generally not painful, but accompanying arthritis may be. If you are in pain, pain relievers like ibuprofen or paracetamol, which you can purchase from a pharmacy, may assist. Ibuprofen is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that may aid with inflammation and swelling.

Moreover, if you are obese, losing weight will benefit you by reducing your joint strain. A physiotherapist may assist you by providing exercises to strengthen the muscles around the problem region and by assisting in the improvement of your range of motion.

Surgery is occasionally used to treat underlying arthritis in the joint. It may be beneficial if you have osteoarthritis in your joints, knees, or hips, especially those near the base of your thumb.

Unless an osteophyte irritates a nerve in the spine or reduces the range of motion of a joint, it is typically not necessary to remove it.

If you ever have surgery to remove an osteophyte, your surgeon will discuss the risks and advantages of the treatment to you.

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