Bone Spur Surgery

What You Need to Know About Bone Spur Surgery

You have suffered with the painful condition for some time and now have asked if the doctor will recommend bone spur surgery.  Understanding why and how that surgery will help your condition guides you through the experience with more success.

Bone spurs, or osteophytes, cause pain and movement restrictions in your joints.  Interestingly, they grow as the body’s response to surface deterioration in the joint (often due to arthritis).  More surface means that weight will be distributed more evenly.  However, the spurs eventually make joint movement painful or difficult.  Bone spurs can also grow on the bottom of the foot, at the Achilles tendon or around the shoulder and the spine when thick ligaments become calcified.  If an accident occurs or trauma is inflicted on the bone, bone spurs can sprout from the healing, new growth supplied by the body.

Almost half of all bone spurs will need to be treated.  Besides surgery, other methods of treatment include losing weight (causing less pressure on the joint), physical therapy such us deep tissue massage and steroid injections in the site of the spurs.  Often common sense strategies such as rest, cold compresses and over the counter pain medication will help with the discomfort.  But the bone spurs may still need to be surgically looked after, especially if they are compressing nerves.

As we age our spine will degenerate and bone spurs in that area are common.  From spurs that have developed in the spine pain can radiate as far as your legs, arms and neck, as well as your back.  Often this severe or constant pain needs to be treated surgically.  The biggest problem with this method is that the cause of the bone spur is left untreated (age, arthritis or other condition).  Therefore a recurrence of bone spurs and the accompanying pain is highly likely.

If surgery is recommended, discuss with your doctor which method of surgery will be used.  As with most surgeries, in a laminectomy the recovery period will vary depending on how invasive it is. 

You can expect surgery to successfully relieve you of your painful symptoms.  Removing the bone spurs will decrease or relieve pressure, grinding and any neurological difficulties present.  This relief should last for years, giving you a better quality of life afterwards.  Be aware however, that the bone spurs will reappear and the pain may start all over again.

Always remember to discuss all of the risks of bone spur surgery with your doctor, ensuring that you understand them fully.  Also mention any medical conditions that you otherwise have - be that high blood pressure, heart or lung disease, kidney problems or diabetes.  All of these can change recovery time and may be a factor in the decision to undergo surgery.

Anti-inflammatory medication may also help your condition, making bone spur surgery less necessary.  Muscle relaxants, regular exercise and various physical therapy treatments can be investigated and tried as well.  

If the bone spurs are causing spinal cord compression or nerve damage, surgery may be the only option for relief.  Recovery will depend on where the bone spur was and the method of surgery used to remove it.  Some bone spur surgeries that are done on the heel or foot will require the patient to be off their feet for several days.  Other surgeries, such as removal of a bone spur on the shoulder, have about a three week recovery period.  The patient’s health, activity level and the size and condition of the bone spur can lengthen or shorten the period.  Discuss your specific situation with your doctor.

Regardless of the recovery time, the lack of pain and easier movement is usually worth it.  Surgery can significantly improve how you feel day to day if you currently suffer the pain of bone spurs and conservative treatments have little effect.  Investigate the option with your medical professional.