Bone spurs are a growth of bone on existing bone. Known medically as osteophytes, bone spurs occur when the body attempts to heal itself. The common condition, which can be often be painful, usually develops as a way to deal with the pressure or rubbing that builds up in the body over the years. What causes bone spurs include diseases, the natural aging process, and trauma.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in a person's joints weakens and the body tries to strengthen itself. As cartilage gradually breaks down, the smooth surfaces around it hardens. This causes bone to press against other bone. While the body attempts to fix the internal damage, the result often is new bone growing over previously existing bones.
Other diseases, often associated with the spine, are another example of what causes bone spurs. Spondylosis is a condition that causes bones in the neck and lower back to break down. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperotosis, known as DISH, produces bone growths on ligaments of the spine. Spinal stenosis is a condition where bone spurs are a factor to the tightening of bones in the spine that leads to pressure on the spinal cord.
As individuals get older and joints slowly erode, bone spurs often develop in the body. Commonly bone spurs will develop in the feet and spine. However, in the elderly, bone spurs may actually be advantageous. The condition helps to strengthen aging joints and cartilage.
An injury caused by trauma or inflammation of cartilage or tendon may produce damage to bones, which is another instance of what causes bone spurs. Often injured areas of the body where bone spurs may grow include the heel and discs in the spine. When the body attempts to mend the damage or inflammation, new bone develops in the area.
Sometimes, bone spurs are self-induced. Activities that tighten ligaments and put pressure on the feet, including dancing and running, may lead to the development of bone spurs. A condition known as plantar fasciitis, where a ligament in the bottom of the foot tugs on the heel, which is yet another example of what causes bone spurs. Bone spurs can also develop from the pressure placed on the feet from being overweight. Women who wear high-heeled shoes that do not fit properly can form bone spurs in their heels.
The shoulder is a place where bone spurs also develop. Making repetitious movements in which the shoulder is placed above the head, such as those used by athletes and artists, can cause bone spurs. Continuous overhead motions cause the tendons to rub against bones. As a result, bone spurs are produced that squeeze the rotator cuff, causing irritation and leads to a weakened shoulder.