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How to recognize osteophytes?
How to recognize osteophytes?

What are osteophytes? These are outgrowths of bone tissue on the joints or the spine, most often forming the marginal "continuation" of the bone. Of course, this does not mean an increase in the joint a couple of times, but small processes that outwardly do not stand out in any way and cannot be recognized without an X-ray.

But they bring so many inconveniences that treatment must be started immediately in order to avoid any complications.

Types of osteophytes

There are 4 types of osteophytes:

  1. Bone compact. These are growths that form from the compact substance of bone tissue. This compact substance has a number of important functions. One of the most important is ensuring bone strength. Also, a compact substance stores chemical elements that are important for the body. For example, phosphorus and calcium in large quantities. The most developed compact substance in the tubular bones is the femurs, humerus, fibula and tibia, ulnar.

    This type of osteophytes is most often found on the phalanges of the fingers.

  2. Osteo-cartilaginous. This type is a consequence of the deformation of the cartilage tissue for any reason. Everything is normal - there are no diseases, then the cartilage covers the joint. The cartilage surfaces serve as some kind of cushioning that minimizes friction between the bones in the joint.

    But, if a large load is constantly placed on the cartilage tissue or the joint is subject to a destructive or inflammatory disease, then the cartilage begins to deform. And the bones under the influence of physical activity begin to grow outside the normal range, that is, form growths - osteophytes.

    This type is most commonly found in the hip and knee joints.

  3. Metaplastic. Osteophytes of this type are formed when the processes of regeneration and metabolism are disturbed in the bone tissue. It is not necessary to go deep into anatomy; it is enough to know that there is a violation of the process of replacing one type of bone tissue cells with another.


Osteophytes of the spine of any part have 3 main symptoms - pain, bone degeneration of the spinal ligaments, limitation of the spine's mobility.

Pain at an early stage of the development of the disease is rare. More often than not, there is none at all. The most common cause of spinal pain in osteophytes is deformity of the vertebrae, which leads to a narrowing of the canal in which a person's spinal cord is located. And also, if the osteophytes of the spine grow to such a size that they squeeze the nerve channels, respectively, this causes pain.

The pain syndrome increases when the affected spine is subject to movement, sneezing or coughing. If there is a compression of the heat of the lumbar spine, then the pain can spread from the buttocks to the foot. Excessive compression of the nerves is fraught with loss of muscle activity in those parts of the body whose nerves are affected.

Limitation of mobility in the spine can be caused by the fusion of several vertebrae. Due to the bony growths, which are too large, there is no room for at least a couple of discs to move. Osteophytes can also cause complete immobility of the entire spine.

Reasons for the appearance

There are a lot of reasons for the appearance of bone growths. But in order to "earn" this disease, it is necessary to frequently or constantly load the joints or the spine with heavy physical exertion, to get injured, thereby provoking various inflammatory processes of the bone tissue.

Let's analyze the most likely causes of the appearance of osteophytes. Bone inflammation often affects many elements of the bone, for example, bone marrow, compact substance, periosteum. This inflammation is called osteomyelitis. The most common cause of inflammation is bacteria that cause pus. An inflammatory process of this nature can appear with a bone fracture (from an existing infection or due to non-sterility).

Bone degeneration. Unfortunately, if you do not monitor the load level and exceed it, then the vertebrae or joints begin to deform.

The reason for this may be a degenerative-dystrophic disease of cartilage tissue - deforming osteoarthritis.

Broken bones. In the place where the fracture occurred, a callus appears - connective tissue. Further, this tissue turns into a kind of bone tissue, but differs from it in that the intercellular substance does not contain such a large amount of calcium as bone. And now, around this newly formed tissue, osteophytes can appear.

If the patient is in the same position for a long time, the load is constantly applied to the spine.

Especially if this job is sedentary. The load on the lumbar and cervical regions increases when there is no rest at work. That is, the posture practically does not change. And all the load goes to the bone tissue, after which it grows and osteophytes are formed.


Treatment of osteophytes of the spine depends on the extent of the spread of the disease. That is, how many growths have formed, how large they are and whether there is already a fusion of the vertebrae.

Treatment has several types, each of them can provide a complex with some other method, or each type can become the next stage of the previous one.

One type of treatment is physical therapy. It is known to everyone who has problems with joints, lesions of the lumbar, thoracic, cervical spine. This therapy consists of a number of different procedures: current, heat, magnetic radiation, ultraviolet, and so on.

physical procedures most often help relieve pain, increase the mobility of a joint or spine. It is especially important when the cervical spine is being treated, because it is the most mobile. Treatment of the lumbar spine is most often associated with sciatica in rather elderly people.

Physiotherapy, no matter how useful it is, has a number of contraindications:

  • tumors;
  • venous disease;
  • bleeding or risk of occurrence;
  • stage 3 hypertension;
  • high cholesterol levels (risk of atherosclerosis);
  • open tuberculosis;
  • an aggravated form of infection.

Medicines. Here, medications are needed to relieve inflammation, as well as relieve pain, especially if the attack is too severe. But medications should be used as part of the complex treatment and also provided with gymnastics, therapeutic massage or physiotherapy procedures.

Surgery threatens those patients who did not go to the doctor on time, treated themselves or waited for a miracle to happen and they would be cured. That is, in a neglected case. Surgical intervention is inevitable if osteophytes press on the spinal cord channels or nerves.


To prevent the appearance of this disease, you need to lead an active lifestyle. If you have a sedentary job, take breaks for minimal warm-ups, stretch your neck and back to improve circulation and tissue nutrition.

When sitting, you need to monitor your posture - try to keep your back straight. Eat foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus. If you have "gorged" excess weight, try to get rid of it with the right methods.

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