The most common cause of bone spurs is joint damage as a result of osteoarthritis, according to Mayo Clinic. As the cartilage breaks down due to osteoarthritis, the body works to remedy this loss by creating extra bone. Eventually, this extra bone turns into a spur.
A person should see a doctor for a bone spur if pain or swelling accompanies the spur, explains Mayo Clinic. It may also be necessary for a patient to see a doctor if it is difficult to move a joint. Most bone spurs do not cause any pain, but as they grow, they can become more painful. By seeing the doctor as soon as these symptoms develop, an individual may be able to slow or prevent further damage from occurring.
During a physical exam for bone spurs, a doctor may use his fingers to try to feel the spur, states Mayo Clinic. If he cannot feel it, he may order X-rays in an attempt to see the spur. Typically, the first attempt at treatment is to use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol or Advil. If the pain is still occurring, surgical removal of the bone spur may be an option. A doctor may also recommend surgery on a bone spur if the spur is limiting the range of motion or pressing on a nerve.