In spite their painful-sounding name, bone spurs are smooth, hard bumps of extra bone that form on the ends of bones. They are a growth of normal bone that tends to occur as we age. The spurs themselves are not painful. Their effect on nearby structures, such as nerves and the spinal cord, can cause pain.
The formation of bone spurs, called osteophytosis, is much more common after the age of 60. But younger adults can develop bone spurs, too.It can occur in any of the body’s joints but most often develops in the hands and weight-bearing joints, including the knees, hips, and spine (usually in the neck or lower back). For people coping with advanced osteoarthritis, the effects are not only physical but also emotional as pain and decreasing mobility can limit the ability to work, participate in daily activities with friends and family, and enjoy life.
People might not find any symptoms at first or even many years, but after an x-ray they finally realize it. They only cause problems when they press on nerves, tendons, or other structures in your body. Then, you might feel any of the following:
There is evidence that the Ayurvedic herb Boswellia serrata, also called Indian frankincense, alleviates joint pain and inflammation. Boswellia blocks an enzyme (5 -lipoxygenase) that plays a major role in the formation of chemicals called leukotrienes, which stimulate and perpetuate inflammation. Researchers have found that people with osteoarthritis who took boswellia along with ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc reported less joint pain and increased mobility and strength.
Another Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), has known anti-inflammatory effects. In a study published in 2007, the extract of this herb was found to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory molecules (TNF-alpha and two interleukin subtypes. In one study, the anti-inflammatory effect of ashwagandha was comparable to taking the steroid hydrocortisone.
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in South and East Asian cooking. It is also used both orally and topically in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments, many of which are related to inflammation. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to inhibit key inflammation-producing enzymes (lipo-oxygenase, cyclo-oxygenase, and phospholipase A2), thus disrupting the inflammatory cascade at three different stages. Interestingly, some data suggests that it may protect the stomach against non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Although current studies for its use in treating osteoarthritis are few, curcumin/turmeric is a promising option in the treatment of OA.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger (Zinziber officinale) have also been documented. Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory by interfering with an enzyme (cyclooxygenase) that produces inflammatory chemicals in the body. There is some data showing that ginger has a moderate beneficial effect on OA of the knee. Further research is needed to determine the extent of ginger’s effectiveness in treating OA.
In addition, the herb guggulu (Commiphora guggul) has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of the enzyme NFKB, which regulates the body’s inflammatory response. There are several studies that show decreased inflammation and joint swelling after administration of extracts of guggulu resin.
Take the following steps to help control your bone spur pain: