Bone Spur: Definition and What it is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Bone Spur Definition and Meaning

A bone spur, or osteophyte, is a bony growth that forms on bones, often in response to prolonged pressure, rubbing, or stress. This overgrowth of bone usually occurs on the edges of a bone near a joint and develops gradually over time. 

Bone spurs are more common with age. They are most frequently found in the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet. Bone spurs are often a side effect of other conditions, like osteoarthritis and tendinitis, in which new bone growth can occur in response to increased stress on the bone. 

Bone Spur Symptoms

While the name “bone spur” may sound painful, bone spurs often don’t cause any symptoms. However, bone spurs can sometimes lead to pain and reduced range of motion in the affected joint if the spur presses against nerves or other bones. When this happens, you may also experience swelling, tenderness, and numbness.

Bone Spurs: A Hinge Health Perspective

Hearing that you have a bone spur can sound alarming, but keep in mind that most bone spurs don’t cause any pain. And your body is very resilient — it can adapt to manage the symptoms of a bone spur. 

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more pain or injury, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to symptom relief. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. The reason: You want your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to remain flexible and mobile. In order to do that, you need to engage in exercises that support your healing and strengthen the affected joint.

Bone Spur Treatment

Most of the time, bone spur symptoms can be managed at home with conservative measures. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the location of the spur, treatments can range from over-the-counter pain medication to ice and heat to reduce swelling to physical therapy. Lifestyle modifications, like focusing on gentler movements and exercises that don’t aggravate your pain too much, can also help you find your movement sweet spot and teach your body and mind that it’s safe to be active.

How Physical Therapy Can Help With a Bone Spur

Physical therapy can aid in easing pain that results from a bone spur, especially if you’re uncomfortable exercising on your own. A physical therapist (PT) may use techniques such as stretching and strengthening exercises to improve joint mobility, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Bone Spur (Osteophyte). (n.d.). University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Retrieved from

  2. Bone Spur. (n.d.). Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Retrieved from

  3. Wong, S. H. J., Chiu, K. Y., & Yan, C. H. (2016). Review Article: Osteophytes. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, 24(3), 403–410. doi:10.1177/1602400327

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