Arthritis-related conditions can cause additional symptoms besides joint pain, such as bone spurs. This type of bone condition is common among people who have osteoarthritis, for example.1

Interestingly, bone spurs can go undetected for many years. Some of them may require treatment while others do not, depending on where the bone spurs are located and how they affect the nearby joints.

Here is a description of what bone spurs are, what causes bone spurs, common bone spur symptoms, and how to treat this condition. We’ll also address how painful bone spurs can be and why they even form in the first place. We’ll answer frequently asked bone spur questions such as, “are bone spurs arthritis?”, “what are osteoarthritis bone spurs?” and more.

Understanding Types of Bone Spurs: What Are Osteoarthritis Bone Spurs?

Bone spurs are small outgrowths or protrusions that form along the edges of bones.2 They are also called osteophytes, and they most commonly form in places where two bones meet. Osteoarthritis bone spurs also commonly occur in places where bones attach to ligaments, muscles, and tendons.1 While bone spurs can occur in various parts of the body, they are most common on the bones in the lower back, neck, hips, shoulders, and knees.

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Are Bone Spurs Arthritis? – What Causes Bone Spurs?

Osteoarthritis is a very common cause of bone spurs because they form in places of continued rubbing over long periods of time.1 Yet bone spurs can also be caused by tendinitis, inflammation, or medical conditions that target just one part of the body, such as plantar fasciitis.3,4,5 People who have experienced trauma to a joint are more prone to developing a bone spur there. Diabetes is also believed to be a risk factor for bone spurs.6

Bone Spur Symptoms

Unlike many other effects of osteoarthritis, bone spurs may not be symptomatic at all.7,8 Lots of people have arthritis and bone spurs at the same time and don’t even realize it. However, people with bone spurs that occur in the hips, knees, hands, and feet may notice mobility challenges that get in the way of daily activities. Bone spurs that occur in the bones of the spine are especially concerning because they can pinch spinal cord nerves and result in spinal tingling, weakness, loss of balance, and numbness.8

Are Bone Spurs Painful?

Some bone spurs are painful while others are not even noticeable. If joints are feeling increasingly painful and loss of motion is experienced, bone spurs could be to blame. An X-ray performed by a doctor will likely reveal if bone spurs exist and dictate the proper treatment options to pursue

Arthritis and Bone Spurs: How to Treat Osteoarthritis Bone Spurs

To treat bone spur symptoms and address pain caused by arthritis and bone spurs, doctors often recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and topical creams to target specific pain regions.1,5 Simply resting painful joints with bone spurs can bring some relief, but rehabilitation therapy should also be explored to restore strength and flexibility to the affected joint regions.9

It may also be necessary to use cortisone steroid injection to reduce joint swelling and pain on a temporary basis.  A laminectomy is a form of surgery that may be discussed in regard to osteoarthritis bone spurs if the spurs are causing severe neurological symptoms and nerve compression in the spine.10 It is always advised to discuss the risks and benefits of various treatment options based on an individual’s age, arthritis disease progression, and other medical complications that may exist.

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1. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). The Merck Manual. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa.
2. Burke, S. (2016 December 7). What are lumbar osteophytes (Bone spurs)? Arthritis Health. Retrieved October 25, 2018 from
3. Achilles Tendinitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from–conditions/achilles-tendinitis/.
4. Plantar fasciitis and bone Spurs. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from–conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs.
5. Bone spurs. Cedars-Sinai. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
6. Schneider, J. H. (2010 December 14). Clinical symptoms of bone spurs. Spine Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
7. Kowalchuk, D. (2016 November 18). What is a bone spur? Sports Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
8. Bone spurs. The Bonati Institute. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
9. Schneider, J. H. (2010 December 14). Treatment options for spurs. Spine Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from
10 . Laminectomy. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 27, 2018 from,p07681.