What Is the Best Way to Relieve Bone Spur Pain?

A picture of a healthy spine and one with bone spurs.
An ice pack, which can help with bone spur pain.
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  • Written By: Steve R.
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
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A bone spur is an abnormal bony protrusion that forms along the edge of bones and is caused by inflammation. When a bone spur rubs against adjacent nerves and other bones, it often results in pain and may also limit range of motion. Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, may occur in several places, commonly in the spine, elbow, and heel. Treatment varies, depending on how severe the pain is and where bone spurs occur. Ways to relieve bone spur pain often include medicine, rest, physical therapy, and in severe cases, surgery.

One of the most common ways to relieve bone spur pain includes taking over-the counter non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory drugs often may be needed for more than a month and will help to reduce pain and swelling. Other prescribed medication may include muscle relaxants. Steroid injections are also used to relieve bone spur pain. Injections of cortisone may bring about temporary relief.

A simple way to get relief from bone spur pain is simply to rest. Activity, particularly running, often arouses swelling and pain in the joints. While resting, a person suffering from bone spur pain can use ice and heat to treat discomfort several times a day. An individual may put an ice pack on the aggravated area for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, followed by a heating pad for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.


Physical therapy, including gentle stretching and strengthening, is also a method for relief concerning bone spur pain. Within two weeks, physical therapy along with exercise can ease sore joints. Particularly with bone spurs in the back and neck, exercise lowers the amount of pressure placed on the nerves. Water activities like swimming and low-impact aerobics do not place as much stress on the body and can help to improve flexibility and strength, as well as increase range of motion.

In certain cases when all other methods fail to alleviate pain and range of motion, surgery may be needed. During surgery, bone spurs and ailing ligaments may be removed. The removal of bone spurs may be done during an open procedure or arthroscopically. During an open procedure, a surgeon makes an incision near the affected joint to gain access to the bone spur. With arthroscopic surgery, a surgeon does not fully cut into the affected joint, but makes small incisions for inserting specialized miniature tools with the use of a tiny camera.


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