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Shoulder Bone Spurs

A bone spur, also called an osteophyte, is an abnormal growth of bone occurring at the edge of a bone, usually where two bones meet.  Bone spurs most commonly form in the cervical (upper) spine, lumbar (lower) spine, heel, shoulder, and knee, but they can also be found in the hip, elbow, finger, and toe joint.  The ends of normal, healthy bones are covered by cartilage, protecting them from rubbing against surrounding bones.  When bone spurs appear, however, they do not form with that protective layer of cartilage, so they have the ability to cause a lot of pain. 

The repetitive rubbing together of bones most commonly is the cause of bone spurs.  After prolonged periods of overwork or overuse, cartilage becomes worn down, exposing bare bone that is vulnerable to degeneration.  This happens often with people suffering from osteoarthritis and/or tendonitis, both of which are inflammatory conditionsThe formation of bone spurs is the body's way of compensating for the wear and tear.  People who overwork/overuse their arms, especially athletes participating in rowing, baseball, and tennis, are more likely to develop bone spurs in the shoulder.

Bone spurs that grow in the shoulder joint can cause serious problems when they press against the nerves in the surrounding tissues or bones. Nerve impingement can cause many serious neurological problems.  Nerves are composed of a plethora of tiny neurons, which, joined together, conduct electrical signals that allow the brain and body to communicate sensory messages and carry out motor functions.  When any irregular growth, like a bone spur,imposes upon a nearby nerve, extra pressure is exerted on the nerve, putting this "tunnel" of communication at risk of disruption.  If too much pressure is put upon a nerve, electrical signals can no longer be conducted, leading to loss of feeling in the affected limbs.  When bone spurs within the shoulder intrude upon the rotator cuff, the shoulder's range of motion can be severely affected.  If the condition worsens, the rotator cuff can even be torn. 

It is possible to have bone spurs in the shoulder joint without having any symptoms.  Some bone spurs are not particularly harmful or disruptive at first and are easily overlooked.  However, when the condition becomes painful, the normal range of motion restricted, and numbness/weakness of the extremities occurs, it is time to seek medical assistance.  Bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion due to nerve impingement. At Spine & Sports Medicine, our experts here will conduct a thorough examination and X-ray (if necessary) to properly detect any bone spurs.  They will assess the situation according to your symptoms, tests, and medical history.  In some cases, surgery is needed to remove the growth, followed by physical therapy rehabilitation.  Because the shoulder joint has such a wide range of motion, bone spur interference can cause major movement dysfunctions.  In general, a physical therapy treatment plan can help mitigate the pain caused by bone spurs.   Working with a physical therapist to strengthen the structures in the shoulder and to increase flexibility can allow you to regain a normal range of motion and be free of pain.  Electrical stimulation is sometimes used to reduce muscle spasms, pain, and inflammation. 

Based on a meticulous examination, a diagnosis is made and a comprehensive treatment plan is devised tailored specifically to each unique situation.  It is very important to seek professional advice and treatment when dealing with shoulder pain because there are multiple conditions that can be easily mistaken for another.  Our experts here at Spine & Sports Medicine are professionals trained to diagnose each condition; they are also highly educated on the best treatments for each respective injury.  It is crucial that the injury is diagnosed correctly; otherwise further damage may be done.

 If you think you are suffering from a shoulder bone spur, call us now to make an immediate appointment (212 986-3888).  A serious underlying medical problem may be present and delaying treatment can cause it to worsen.  Our office is conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan, Madison Avenue and 40th Street.  Most insurance covers bone spur treatment.

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