Bone spurs are overgrowth of bones which are commonly seen in joints. They are present at the end of bone. The common site of bony spur is spinal bones and heel; sometimes they may grow in other bony joints such as the elbow and knee. In medical parlance, bone spurs are called osteophytes.
Bone spurs in elbow joint can cause pain and restricted elbow movement. Elbow joint is smaller as compared to knee joint. Even a tiny projection or extra growth of bone in elbow joint can cause intense discomfort. Bone spurs on their own are painless; however pain is due to rubbing against the surrounding tissues, cartilage and nerves.
Bone spurs in elbow usually develop in adults after the age of 40 years. It is gradual growth. Repeated minor injury, excessive strain to elbow joint, and degeneration of bony structures of elbow joint are usually responsible for formation of bone spurs.
Treatment may depend on symptom severity. If it interferes with elbow joint function, conservative treatment or surgery may be necessary.
What Causes A Bone Spur In Elbow?
The elbow joint is made up of three bones, two ends of forearm bones and one end of upper arm bone. The joint is made up of several other structures such as ligaments and cartilage and muscle tendon.Spurs in elbow develop due to repeated minor injury to elbow bones.
- Person playing certain sports such as tennis, badminton, etc are at risk of developing elbow spurs. It is because after the injury, extra bone begins to grow and the end result is formation of a spur.
- Inflammation of tendons in elbow joint or inflammation of bursa is another reason for bony spur in elbow. A bursa is fluid filled sac in between the two ends of bones in a joint. It allows the bones to slide over each other.
- Osteoarthritis is common in old age. This condition can occur in elbow joint. In Osteoarthritis, the bony end becomes weak and repeated strain and friction between the two bones accelerates new bony growth in the form of spur.
Symptoms Of Bone Spur In Elbow
- Pain: If the elbow spur is large, it can place pressure on the structures of elbow joint such as the tendons, ligaments and cartilage. The bony growth can rub against the end of another bone or compress a nerve leading to pain in elbow. Patient experiences difficulty and pain while extending his forearm to perform various daily activities.
- Limited range of motion: The range of motion of elbow joint becomes limited. The elbow becomes stiff and patient is unable to extend his forearm. Sometimes, the elbow is swollen and tender due to inflammation around the spur.
- Locked elbow: The elbow gets locked if the bony spur breaks and lodges in the elbow space. Patient temporarily finds difficulty in either extending or folding his forearm. In other words, it becomes locked.
Natural Treatment For Bone Spurs In Elbow
The symptoms of elbow bone spurs are treated conservatively before any major surgical decision is taken by the doctor. Here are important measures to alleviate symptoms produced by elbow bone spurs.
- Rest: Giving rest to the elbow joint is essential part of treatment. It reduces irritation produced by spur to adjacent structures. Thus pain and inflammation is reduced and patient feels better. Avoid doing strenuous work or movement which cause rubbing between the spur and other structures in elbow. Doctors recommend wearing supportive gear to reduce elbow movement.
- Ice fomentation: Applying ice over the painful elbow will reduce inflammation and irritation. The numbing effect of ice will reduce pain for some time. Gently place the ice bag over painful area for 10 minutes.
- Medicines: If pain is severe and patient is unable to bear it, anti inflammatory medications and pain killer for a few days will help to alleviate the symptoms.
- Homeopathic medicines such as Arnica, Rhustox, are beneficial in alleviating pain and swelling.
- Applying flax seed warm packs also help to relieve pain and inflammation produced by elbow spur.
- If the spur is dislodged in the joint space and causes locked elbow, surgical correction is effective in dealing with the condition.