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Osteophytes surgery, commonly known as bone spur surgery, is a type of bone surgery done to remove osteophytes, or bone spurs. Most bone spurs will not typically cause much pain, if any, and patients will generally be completely unaware that they are there. In more severe cases where the bone spurs are causing a significant amount of pain or other problems, surgery may be an option to have them removed. Depending on where the osteophyte is located and how severe it is, either an open osteophytectomy or an arthroscopic ostephytectomy can be performed.
Although many cases do not require treatment of any kind, osteophytes surgery is sometimes recommended in cases where the spurs rub on other tissues. For example, bone spurs on the neck and spine can put pressure on the spinal column or other nerves, which can cause numbness or tingling in other areas of the body, especially the feet and hands. Also, osteophytes in the neck can make it difficult for an individual to breathe or swallow.
As osteophytes have a tendency to form in joints and possibly cause tendinitis, which can also cause severe pain and some immobility in certain joints. Shoulder and knee joints are particularly affected, and bone spurs here may require osteophytes surgery to help a patient move his arm or lower leg. Some osteophytes may cause mild to severe disfiguration, as well as some pain, such as when they form on the fingers or toes. Many times, osteophytes surgery is done in combination with some arthritis surgery.
Open osteophytes surgery usually begins by cutting the tissues around the bone spurs to reach them. Large osteophytes are then clipped off, and the surrounding bone is filed smooth using a file or something resembling a small grinder. This procedure is typically reserved for more serious or larger bone spurs, and often requires a short stay in the hospital.
A less invasive procedure is often used for less serious or smaller osteophytes. Arthroscopic osteophytes surgery involves making much smaller incisions in the skin, and the muscles and tendons are usually pushed aside to reach the osteophyte. During this procedure, a tiny fiber optic camera is used to aid the surgeon, and tiny tools are used to remove and smooth the bone spur. This is often performed as an outpatient procedure and requires nothing more that a local anesthesia in a physician's office.
After osteophytes surgery, it will typically take at least a few weeks, and sometimes longer, for a patient to fully recover. Open procedures will often take a little longer to heal. It is usually recommended that the patient rest the area that has just been operated on to ensure that it heals properly. Also, to avoid infection, surgeons recommend that the area be kept clean and dry.
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