Commonly referred to as 'bone spurs', osteophytes are areas of excessive growth of bone tissue in and around the joints. These often round protuberances of bone are a result of the body compensating for the effects of deterioration in the joints that may be related to age, injury, overuse, or or a combination of these and other causes of articular degeneration.
Specifically, osteophyte formation is the body's way of limiting or even stopping the movement in the joint that due to its deterioration has lost its natural fit. In other words, it's as if your body has good intentions, but the solution it comes up with is inadequate.
Osteophytes can present in just about any area where there is an articulation between two bones. Bone spurs are often asymptomatic. However, when there is pain or discomfort the specific symptoms will depend on the area that is being impacted by a bone spur. Nonetheless, there are some general symptoms that may help in detecting the presence of an osteophyte. Here are some of the symptoms to be aware of:
In extreme cases, shooting nerve pains may cause a person to lose control of their bladder or bowels.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms and it is adversely affecting your quality of life, you ought to see a doctor. An osteophyte can only be detected with an X-ray.
As we grow older, the different moving parts in our joints as well as the cartilage that serves to provide much needed cushioning begins to wear out. Our ligaments are unable to 'pick up the slack' and provide the extra support, and so our body vainly tries to 'help out' by thickening the bone of the existing joint structure in order to create more supportive surface area.
It's easy for someone who's not a biologist or medical to forget that bone is a living tissue. Without making it too much of a science lesson, our bones remain healthy thanks to the action of special cells called 'osteoblasts', as well as others called 'osteoclasts'.
Osteoblasts are the cells that synthesize new bone tissue, while osteoclasts remove old bone tissue by breaking it down into smaller minerals that can be carried in the bloodstream to the liver and the kidneys.
Maintaining this process of regeneration and removal depends on maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in vitamin B6, Betaine Hydrochloric Acid (black olives, apple cider vinegar, spinach, kale, etc.), magnesium glycerophosphate, calcium, calcium chloride and others.
Of course, the best source of nutrition is fresh food (generally speaking). Nonetheless, supplements can help. In the case of magnesium glycerophosphate a supplement is often the only way to go, as woefully low levels of this important mineral have been depleted in the soil, and thus do not make it into our food. Another supplement to consider taking would be "Vitamin B6 as P-5-P", a specific B6 compound that helps promote bone health. As is Ammonium Chloride, which despite its nefarious sounding name is a mildly acidic compound that helps restore the pH balance to one that is conducive to healthy bone growth without osteophytes.
One's habits and activities are also factors that determine osteophyte formation. For instance, carpenters, plumbers and other tradesmen frequently develop bone spurs in their knees, the result of years of having to bend over and get into crammed spaces. Athletes too are highly susceptible to osteophyte formation; a bone spur in the rotator cuff has ended the careers of numerous major league baseball pitchers.
Obesity is also a major cause of bone spurs, given that the joints are not meant to support such excessive weight and this accelerates any degenerative process.
Treatment for osteophytes is only necessary in the case that it is causing pain or immobility. Options for pain relief may include adopting a specific stretching regime to be performed before and after physical activity, deep tissue massage, and even surgical intervention to remove the bone spur.