What Does a Bone Spur Look Like?

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A bone spur appears as a tiny, pointed growth on a bone, according to MedicineNet. Bone spurs, which are typically only treated when pain occurs, are generally only visible through radiologic testing such as X-rays, an MRI scan, CT scan and ultrasound imaging. Caused by a local inflammation such as arthritis or tendonitis, bone spurs typically develop near areas of injury or inflammation of cartilage and tendons.

The symptoms of a bone spur include pain, numbness, tenderness and weakness in neighboring irritated tissues, according to MedicineNet. In many cases, bones spurs cause no symptoms at all, while in other cases, they cause severe, debilitating pain. Medically referred to as an osteophyte, bone spurs most commonly form in the back, Achilles tendon and heel bone, but they can occur in any joint that has degenerated cartilage surrounding it.

Bone spurs are initially treated by working to reduce inflammation and avoiding re-injury, according to MedicineNet. Anti-inflammatory medicines are typically administered orally or by injection. In the case of bones spurs that cause damage or pain to adjacent nerves, surgery may be required. There is no way to prevent bone spurs, but if they are not causing any problems, they are typically left alone and do not require treatment.

Heel spurs may end in a sharp point and extend up to half an inch from the heel bone, notes WebMD. By contrast, bone spurs on the spine usually grow over the spinal cord column and give the appearance of melting bone, explains Mayo Clinic. Bone spurs on the finger joints resemble small lumps. These spurs often cause visible bumps on the fingers, according to WakeMed Health & Hospitals.