Doctor holding X-ray of feet

If you are now suffering the pain of a bone spur, you know how much such a small protrusion can interfere with your life. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we have a fine track record of relieving the pain of bone spurs and other musculoskeletal abnormalities with corticosteroid injections. 

What Is a Bone Spur?

A bone spur, medically known as an osteophyte, is a small, bony projection that sometimes forms along the edges of the joints. Typically, bone spurs occur in joints that have been subjected to continuous wear and tear, so they are more common in people over 60 years of age. 

Where Do Bone Spurs Occur?

Bone spurs can be found on any bone, but most commonly appear on:

  • Cervical and lumbar spine (neck and lower back)
  • Shoulders
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Hands and fingers
  • Feet, particularly the heels

What Causes Bone Spurs?

The primary cause of bone spurs is the joint damage associated with osteoarthritis. As the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones within joints deteriorates, the body attempts to repair the loss by growing extra bone. Other factors that contribute to the development of bone spurs are:

  • Other types of arthritic or spinal conditions, such as stenosis
  • Repetitive motion or prolonged pressure on joints
  • Inherited predisposition towards bone spur development or congenital abnormality
  • Obesity, poor posture, lack of exercise, unsupportive footwear
  • High-impact sports that contribute to wear and tear over time or result in traumatic injury
  • Serious injury due to traffic accidents, falls, construction accidents, etc.

The Broad Range of Bone Spur Symptoms

Many individuals with bone spurs are asymptomatic. However, patients troubled by bone spur  symptoms may experience:

  • Pain in or near the affected joint that worsens with movement
  • Swelling, warmth, and redness in the joint area
  • Muscle spasms, cramps, and weakness
  • Knobby or bumpy areas, especially in the fingers or toes
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness, especially in the legs (due to spinal spurs)
  • Radiating pain in the shoulders, buttocks, and thighs
  • Stiffness or reduced range of motion in the joint
  • Tendonitis or tendon tears in the affected area (common in the shoulder)
  • Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal due to bone spurs

How Bone Spurs Are Diagnosed

Our physiatrists are excellent diagnosticians who use state-of-the-art equipment. In order to make an accurate diagnosis of a bone spur, we will:

  • Take a comprehensive medical history
  • Perform a physical examination
  • Use imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, and CT scans

Depending on your symptoms, we may also administer EMG and nerve conduction studies.

How Corticosteroids Work on Bone Spurs

Many people with bone spurs are asymptomatic, but if a bone spur rubs against another bone or presses on a nerve, patients can have ongoing, intrusive pain, as well as stiffness and impaired mobility. For these patients, the corticosteroid injections we administer can be a godsend. 

Although our doctors offer many types of supportive therapies to reduce the pain and inflammation of a bone spur, such as acupuncture and platelet-rich plasma (PRP), none are as potent as corticosteroids when it comes to anti-inflammatory capabilities. Corticosteroids work by mimicking the effects of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands, which helps regulate the body’s inflammatory response. When administered intravenously with a local anesthetic, they provide immediate and then extended relief.

Depending on the location and severity of the inflammatory problem, corticosteroids can be administered orally, topically, intravenously, or through inhalation. While in mild cases of osteoarthritis oral or topical corticosteroids may be effective, corticosteroid injections are generally required to treat the severe pain of bone spurs. Because targeting the correct location is paramount, we administer epidural (spinal) corticosteroid injections under fluoroscopic guidance, and corticosteroid injections to other parts of the body under ultrasound guidance. 

When administered directly into the affected joint or spine area, corticosteroids can:

  • Reduce inflammation around the bone spur
  • Alleviate pain by decreasing the inflammatory response
  • Improve joint function and range of motion
  • Provide relief from symptoms for several weeks to months

Corticosteroids are particularly beneficial for patients who have not responded adequately to other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Like all responsible healthcare providers, our doctors limit corticosteroid injections to three or four a year to prevent negative side effects.

What Getting a Corticosteroid Injection Is Like

Receiving a corticosteroid injection for a bone spur is a simple matter involving the following steps; nonetheless, it can be life-altering: 

  1. Consultation and evaluation — Our physiatrist will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if corticosteroid injections are appropriate for you.
  2. Preparation — The injection site is cleaned, and a local anesthetic may be applied to minimize the discomfort of the shot itself.
  3. Injection —  Using precise imaging guidance, the doctor injects a combination of corticosteroid and anesthetic into the area around the bone spur.
  4. Post-injection care — The patient is typically monitored for a short period following the injection. Instructions for home care are made and any necessary follow-up is scheduled.
  5. Recovery — Many patients experience significant pain relief within a few days of the injection which can last for several weeks to many months.

Corticosteroids Are Not for Everyone With Bone Spurs

People who take blood thinners, and have bleeding disorders, high blood pressure, type 1 diabetes, or glaucoma should not receive these injections. Women who are pregnant must also avoid epidurals since the fluoroscopy used to guide the process could damage their unborn child.

Contact Our Bone Spur Specialists Now To Discuss Corticosteroid Injections

Over our years in practice as a medical practice specializing in nonsurgical pain relief and restoration of function, we are proud to say we have provided a great many patients with relief, enabling them to get back to their vibrant lifestyles. Our physiatrists are well-known in Nassau and Suffolk Counties for our experience in holistic medicine and for the wide variety of both traditional and complementary therapies, we use to heal our patients. 

If you are troubled by a bone spur or a painful ailment that has not yet been diagnosed, contact us to make an appointment with one of our highly skilled specialists now. Once you experience the pleasure of collaborating with compassionate healthcare professionals, you will never want to return to a medical environment in which your feelings are not taken seriously.