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Knee And Shoulder Bone Spurs: Are They Responsible For Your Pain?

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If you have intense pain and limited range of motion in your knees and shoulders, ask an orthopedist about bone spurs. Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are abnormal bone growths that form on joints and other bones, including your shoulders and knees. For most people, the bony growths are painless and go unnoticed. However, bone spurs can cause significant problems in some individuals, particularly people who have injuries or a medical condition that inflames the joints. 

What Exactly Are Bone Spurs?

Although bone spurs can develop on any bone in your body, they tend to form on or near your joints. Healthy joints rely on cartilage and fluids to protect them from friction and injury. However, joints can lose their protection if you severely injure them, or if you develop a disease like osteoarthritis (OA) that inflames them. Bone spurs can develop as a result of the damage.

Bone spurs are vastly different from normal bone tissue. Although bone cells can die and regenerate daily, it normally takes about 10 years for your entire skeleton to completely rebuild, or remodel, itself. When bones and joints become damaged or inflamed, their cells attempt to repair the problem right away by making new bone tissue. The excess bone tissue builds up until it forms smooth pieces of bone that project, or stick out.  

Spurs can potentially tear, suppress, or press into the nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the affected joints. Spurs that develop in the shoulders, knees, and hips can cause pain and swelling, as well as limit movement in those tissues. 

Bone spurs in your knees can make it difficult to stand up, bend, walk, or even sleep. Your shoulder pain may make it difficult to lift your arm over your head or pick up objects with your fingers. If you stop using your knees or shoulders, they can become stiff. 

To combat the problems above, take steps to treat your bone spurs.

How Do You Treat the Growths?

It's a good idea that you seek help from a bone specialist, or orthopedist, for your pain and limited range of motion. An orthopedist will most likely take X-rays of your bones and joints to see if you have osteoarthritis or another disease that damages your joints. A bone specialist may also refer you to a rheumatologist, or arthritis doctor, for further examination. If both doctors diagnose you with arthritis of any type, they'll develop a treatment plan to manage it. 

If you don't have arthritis, an orthopedist may ask about your medical history to find out if you injured your shoulder or knees in the past. Even old injuries, poor posture, and the wrong type of shoes may lead to bone spurs. If possible, make a list of things that could possibly damage the tissues in your knee and shoulder joints. The list may help the doctor diagnose and treat your bone spurs properly and promptly. 

Treatment for osteophytes can include physical therapy to improve your range of motion and medication therapy to manage your pain. Range of motion therapy is designed to reduce the stiffness and discomfort in your joints. If therapy doesn't improve your symptoms, surgery may be a viable option for you. 

The surgical removal of bone spurs from your knees and shoulders may differ because of the locations and functions. For instance, if the bone spurs in your shoulders damaged your rotator cuff, a bone doctor or surgeon may choose to repair the damages after they remove the spurs. If the spurs caused major problems with your knees, a specialist may suggest that you undergo knee replacement surgery. 

After treatment, protect your joints and bones from spurs by getting plenty of exercise. Exercise can help keep your tissues healthy. If you experience problems in the future with your shoulders or knees, contact a bone specialist, such as those at Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC, today.