Bone Spurs

A bone spur or osteophyte is essentially a bony growth that forms on the normal bone. A bone spur is, in fact, an extra bone. It can cause wear and tear or extreme pain if it presses or rubs against other bones or soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons or nerves. Bone spurs usually occur on the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet.

An ‘elbow bone spur’ specifically refers to bone overgrowth in the elbow. It is commonly found in people involved in sports activities


  • Continued stress or rubbing of a bone for a prolonged period of time.
  • Osteoarthritis or inflammation caused by tendinitis.


  • Severe pain
  • Stiffness and loss of motion in the elbow joint
  • Tenderness, swelling and inflammation around the area of the spur.
  • Locking sensation in the elbow joint on movement
  • Inability to straighten the elbow
  • A hard lump near the joint
  • Weak grip and numbness or tingling of the fourth and fifth fingers.


The orthopedist would first of all diagnose elbow bone spurs by a thorough physical examination. X-rays may help in identifying elbow spurs. An MRI scan may be obtained in order to determine the presence of cartilaginous loose bodies.

Treatment options

Non-surgical treatment:

Anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen, ketoprofen, ibuprofen or aspirin can help to reduce the inflammation and swelling in the tendons or bursae.

Applying ice: Acute pain flare-ups caused by elbow bone spur may respond to the application of ice packs on the region. It helps in reducing swelling and decreases the friction against the bone spur.

Surgical treatment

Arthroscopic Surgery: Doctors may sometimes recommend arthroscopic surgery for treatment of elbow bone spurs and other tissue debris that cause severe, persistent pain or loss of joint function. Arthroscopic surgery of the elbow, also called arthroscopic ulnohumeral arthroplasty, is helpful for those patients who suffer from painful elbow bone spurs caused by Osteoarthritis.

Joint Replacement: Bone spurs are the primary cause of joint deformities that occur with Osteoarthritis. As the cartilage in the joint degenerates and wears away, the bones near the joint overgrow, forming large spurs, thus leading to deformation of joints and limited mobility. Elbow joint replacement will offer significant relief from pain and restoration of joint function for people who have severe elbow arthritis and joint deformity.