What is Removal of Bone Spurs?
Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are bony overgrowths formed along the edges of the bones near or on a joint. Bone spurs occur as a result of injury or arthritis and damage the ends of bones, causing pain and reduced mobility. Although bone spurs can grow on any bone edges, they are particularly common on the hip, knee, shoulder, neck, spine, hand, finger, foot, big toe, ankle, and heel.
Removal of bone spurs is a surgical procedure in which one or two small incisions are made near the affected joint and special tools are used to remove the bony overgrowths from the edges of the bone to alleviate pain and improve range of motion.
Indications for Removal of Bone Spurs
Bone spur removal surgery is indicated when non-surgical treatment such as medications, physical therapy, and injections have failed to resolve painful and debilitating symptoms associated with bone spurs such as:
- Pain in the affected joint or bone ends
- Numbness and weakness
- Reduced range of motion
- Ruptured tendons
- Pressure on nearby nerves
Preparation for Removal of Bone Spurs
In general, preoperative preparation for bone spur removal will involve the following steps:
- A thorough examination is performed by your doctor to check for any medical issues that need to be addressed prior to surgery.
- Depending on your medical history, social history, and age, you may need to undergo tests such as blood work and imaging to help detect any abnormalities that could threaten the safety of the procedure.
- You will be asked if you have allergies to medications, anesthesia, or latex.
- You should inform your doctor of any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking.
- You may need to refrain from supplements or medications such as blood thinners or anti-inflammatories a week or two prior to surgery.
- You should refrain from alcohol or tobacco at least a week before surgery.
- You should not consume any solids or liquids at least 8 hours prior to surgery.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.
- A written consent will be obtained from you after the surgical procedure has been explained in detail.
Procedure for Removal of Bone Spurs
Bone spur removal surgery is performed under regional or general anesthesia and can be done as an open surgery or arthroscopically, depending on the area affected.
Arthroscopy, also referred to as keyhole surgery, is a minimally invasive procedure in which an arthroscope, a narrow tube with a tiny camera and light source at the end, is used to assess and repair damage at the joint. During an arthroscopic bone spur removal surgery, two to three tiny incisions (portals), about a half-inch in length, are made around the area of the joint affected with bone spurs. Through one of the incisions, an arthroscope is passed. A camera attached to the arthroscope displays the images of the inside of the joint on a monitor. The larger television monitor allows your surgeon to visualize the joint directly and determine the extent of damage. Miniature surgical instruments are inserted through other tiny incisions to remove the bone spurs. Any tissue damage around the joint is also typically addressed during the procedure. After completion of the procedure, the arthroscope and instruments are removed, and the incisions are closed and bandaged.
During an open surgery, a long incision of several centimeters is made over the affected joint. The underlying soft tissues are carefully moved aside to expose the damaged joint. Special surgical tools are inserted to remove the bone spurs, as well as carry out any other needed repairs around the joint. Once the repair is made, the instruments are removed and the incisions are closed with stitches or small sterile bandage strips.
Postoperative Care and Instructions
In general, postoperative care instructions and recovery after removal of bone spurs will involve the following:
- You will be transferred to the recovery area where your nurse will closely observe you for any allergic/anesthetic reactions and monitor your vital signs as you recover.
- You may notice some pain, swelling, and discomfort in the operated area. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are provided as needed.
- Application of ice bags over a towel to the surgical area to reduce postoperative pain and swelling is also encouraged.
- You will be placed on assistive devices with instructions on restricted weight-bearing for a specified period of time. You are encouraged to walk with assistance as frequently as possible to prevent blood clots.
- Keep the surgical site clean and dry. Instructions on surgical site care and bathing will be provided.
- Refrain from smoking as it can negatively affect the healing process.
- Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamin D is strongly advised to promote healing and a faster recovery.
- Refrain from strenuous activities for the first few months and lifting heavy weights for at least 6 months. Gradual increase in activities over a period of time is recommended.
- An individualized physical therapy protocol will be designed to help strengthen joint muscles and optimize joint function.
- Most patients are able to resume their normal activities in 3 to 4 weeks after surgery; however, return to sports or recreational activities may take longer.
- Refrain from driving until you are fully fit and receive your doctor’s consent.
- A periodic follow-up appointment will be scheduled to monitor your progress.
Risks and Complications
Removal of bone spurs is a relatively safe procedure; however, as with any surgery, some risks and complications may occur, such as the following:
- Postoperative pain
- Damage to nerves and vessels
- Thromboembolism or blood clots
- Anesthetic/allergic reactions