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Remedies and Treatments for Bone Spurs

Bone spurs can restrict your mobility and impair quality of life. If you exhibit symptoms, restoring movement and relieving pain will be the primary goals of holistic treatments.

A woman sitting barefoot on a flight of stairs while massaging her left ankle with her left hand.

Found a strange lump around your ankle and it’s causing you joint pain and discomfort? It may be a bone spur, which is an abnormal growth forming off a bone.

Bone spurs can also cause pain and limit the range of movement of different joints, including your hip, knee, neck, shoulder, spine, finger and parts of your foot, such as the heel, ankle, and big toe. 

People above the age of 60 or who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis have a higher tendency to develop bone spurs. It can also happen in younger people, though it’s less frequent. 

Here are some reasons behind bone spurs and remedies that can address the condition holistically.

Why Do Bone Spurs Happen? 

A woman standing with hunched shoulders, looking at a mobile phone she’s holding with both hands.
Bad posture is one of the reasons behind the development of bone spurs.

Multiple risk factors can heighten the risk of bone spurs: 

  • Genetics 
  • Bad posture 
  • Poor nutrition  
  • Structural birth defects 
  • Disc and joint degeneration 
  • Sports-related injuries and physical trauma from accidents 

Time too, can wear down the intervertebral discs and loosen the ligaments, impairing joint stability. In response, your body will attempt to hold its bones together by thickening the ligaments. These ligaments, combined with newly formed bone flecks will put pressure on the bone around the spinal cord and nerve roots.

On the other hand, the chiropractic point of view is that bone spurs stem from prolonged aggravation of the tendons and ligaments in the body.

“Bone spurs often affect the part of the foot between the proximal plantar fascia and calcaneus (the tendon-like extension of the calf muscle).  

“The insertion points of the distal triceps (the tendon that holds the muscle to the bone together at or near the elbow) to the olecranon (a large, thick, and curved bone that’s part of the ulna) and the annular fibres (the circular exterior of spinal discs) are also prone to bone spurs.   

“The application of extreme and long-lasting tension will stimulate calcification on these structures. The body perceives this process to toughen these structures and prevent damage.” 

Real Health Medical Doctor of Chiropractic Simon Shen

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) meanwhile, associates bone spurs with the influence of the Kidney and Liver over the tendons, ligaments, and bones.

“The Kidneys and Liver control the growth and supports normal functioning of the tendons, ligaments, and bones. But as you age, the vital substance that helps maintain bone density – Kidney jing, or essence – will start to deplete.  

This can lead to a weak lower back and limbs and make you prone to bone spurs. Notable imbalances and pathogenic factors that affect the Kidney and Liver are Deficiencies, Qi (vital life force) Stagnation, Blood Stasis, and Damp-Cold.” 

Real Health Medical Chief Physician Chu I Ta

What Can You Do to Address Bone Spurs? 

Speak to a clinical physician immediately if you have painful bone spurs, restrict mobility, and induce stiffness or numbness in the affected area.

During a consultation, a physician may suggest home remedies or modifications to your daily routine as the first line of treatment for your symptoms. If these methods fail to produce the desired outcome, more extensive treatments will be required. 

Examples of home remedies and lifestyle modifications that can ease bone spur symptoms are: 

  • Sufficient rest 
  • Ice compressions 
  • Use of orthopaedic footwear or inserts 
  • Weight loss to decrease joint and bone stress 
  • Massages to encourage better blood circulation to the affected area  
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 

Physiotherapy 

Before starting your first physiotherapy session, rest well and apply ice compressions to the site of pain and inflammation. As soon as the inflammation subsides, use stretching exercises to slow down the calcification of, and to reduce tension on a tendon or ligament.

Surgery 

If a bone spur limits your range of motion or presses against your nerves, removing the growth through surgery will be recommended. 

One procedure is a laminectomy, which takes the pressure off affected nerves by enabling spinal decompression and removing spinal bone spurs. Surgery to remove bone spurs in the other joints may also be considered, but only as a last resort if other treatments fail.

Herbal foot bath and acupressure massages 

External treatments like a foot bath can help soothe the pain and discomfort that comes with bone spurs. A few herbs that make for perfect additions to a foot bath are: 

  • Honeysuckle stem (ren dong teng, 忍冬藤)  
  • Horny goat weed (yin yang huo, 淫羊藿)  
  • Suberect Spatholobus Stem (ji xue teng, 鸡血藤) 
  • Fortune’s Drynaria rhizome (gu sui bu, 骨碎补) 
  • Chinese Clematis root and rhizome (wei ling xian, 威灵仙) 

Massaging acupoints which are connected to the different meridians may provide the same therapeutic effect as herbal foot baths. These include: 

  • Bladder: Shen shu (BL23, 肾俞) and cheng shan (BL57, 承山) 
  • Kidneys: Da zhong (KI4, 大钟) and zhao hai (KI6, 照海) 
  • Large Intestine: Shou san li (LI10, 手三里) 
  • Pericardium: Da ling (PC7, 大陵) 

Work with a physician to identify the best course of treatment for your individual bone spur symptoms. If you’re keen on learning if alternative remedies can boost the efficacy of clinical treatment, speak to a licensed TCM practitioner.

At home, regular stretching will strengthen your muscles and prevent calcification by reducing tension applied to tendons and ligaments. Practice good posture for a strong spine as it can be useful in minimising the risk of spinal bone spurs. 

If you found the abovementioned tips on how to deal with bone spurs informative, share this article with your family and friends.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Bone Spurs (Osteophytes). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2023] 
  2. Cedars-Sinai. Bone Spurs. [online] [Accessed 15 March 2023] 
  3. UPMC. Bone Spur (Osteophyte). [online] [Accessed 15 March 2023] 

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