What Is a Bone Spur?

A bone spur is a piece of bone that grows out from another bone, such as the heel bone or the vertebrae. Some bone spurs are asymptomatic and don't have to be treated. Other bone spurs, such as those that develop in Haglund's syndrome, are quite painful.

These spurs cause not only pain, but also inflammation. Since many develop around the area of a joint, they can make it hard to move the joint.

Bone spurs are often the result of injury or arthritis. They are the body's attempt to compensate for lost cartilage. They can be treated with painkillers if they're not affecting the nerves or making it too difficult to move.

Many spurs are only discovered by an X-ray performed for another condition. In some cases, bone spurs cause pain and loss of motion in the affected joint. These symptoms are most typically experienced in the knee, spine, hip, shoulder and fingers. Bone spurs in the knee can interrupt the function of bones and tendons, making it painful to extend and bend the knee, states Mayo Clinic. Spurs located on the vertebrae narrow the space that contains the spinal cord. These pinch the spinal cord and may cause numbness in the arms and legs. In the hip, these spurs can make movement painful and reduce the range of motion. Shoulder bone spurs can rub on the rotator cuff, causing swelling and tears in the cuff. Bone spurs appear as hard lumps under the skin of the fingers and make the joints look knobby. Early treatment can prevent joint damage, according to Mayo Clinic.