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What are the Most Common Symptoms of a Hip Bone Spur?

By Chelsea O'Neill
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The most common symptoms of a hip bone spur are pain, numbness, and swelling in the hip joint or further down into the knee. Knee pain is sometimes actually related to problems in the hip that are “referred” down, usually via nerve signals; this is usually a consequence of repetitive leg motion like walking that depends equally on both joints. Most people with hip spurs don’t have any symptoms at first, though. The condition usually only becomes problematic if it impacts the way the joint moves or functions, and people can go their whole lives with no symptoms at all. The most common treatment is standard pain medication, but if the spurs are really impeding movement or the quality of life they may need to be removed surgically. Bone surgery is usually considered to be quite serious, and as such is typically reserved for extreme situations.

Understanding Bone Spurs Generally

Bone spurs, also known as “osteophytes,” are bony projections that form in the body's joints. Although they are not painful in and of themselves, they often create friction for the bones and nerves that surround them. This can lead to pain, most often during joint movement. The three basic types of bone spurs are those near areas affected by arthritis, those near certain tendons or ligaments, and those that occur where trauma has affected a bone or joint. Spurs on the hip can happen for any or all of these reasons.

Why They Happen

Spurs on the hip, as with spurs anywhere, are one of the body’s ways of trying to heal and protect itself. The body tries to heal areas that have been affected by arthritis, and the healing can result in new bone growth on the sides of the existing bone. The ligaments or tendons can also calcify where they attach to the bones next to them, as is often the cases after some sort of trauma or accident.

Pain

Many people never even realize they have a hip bone spur, and the growths can sit on the bones for years without symptoms. In these cases they often aren’t ever diagnosed unless a patient gets an X-ray or bone scan for some other purpose. One of the first symptoms people usually notice when the spurs are problematic, though, is pain.

In most cases pain starts out resembling a dull ache that starts in the morning and worsens throughout the day. It typically intensifies after long periods of walking or sitting or after any activity that puts pressure on the area. The hip might feel limp, stiff or tight, and it will often have a decreased range of motion because the bone spur can limit how far the hip can move. Eventually, as the bone spur becomes worse, the pain will be present for the entire day and usually also throughout the night.

Swelling and Numbness

The joint also becomes inflamed in many patients, and additionally it’s common for the knee to feel swollen or numb from time to time, too. The hip and the knee are connected by a series of nerves and muscles, and in many ways the joints work together to facilitate movement. Spurs on hip can sometimes cause a person to subconsciously “correct” their gait to avoid rubbing against the growth, and this can sometimes cause stress and strain further down.

Getting Help

Bone spurs anywhere, including on the hip, aren’t always easy to treat. Most health care providers recommend a series of pain relieving drugs, and may also advise a consultation with a physical therapist. Physical therapy professionals can help patients find ways to move their bodies that cause less pain and avoid creating unnecessary friction.

Surgery is sometimes an option, but usually only when bone spurs are seriously impeding movement or if they are positioned so as to cause potentially permanent nerve damage. Surgical removal usually involves cutting down to the bone, then sawing or filing the calcification off. The procedure is highly invasive and the fix isn’t always permanent, either; in some patients, the spurs will grow back after a year or so. As such, this sort of treatment is usually only recommended if there are no better options.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Jul 28, 2014

@burcinc-- Yes, the pain from a hip bone spur can be felt at the knee. At least, that's what I've read. For majority of people though, the pain is at the hip. Some people also feel pain around the groin or the thigh. So pain can be felt in different locations. The only way to be sure that the cause is a bone spur at the hip is to get an x-ray of the hip. Otherwise the pain might be confused with other types of pain or other problems.

Also, the intensity of the pain caused by the bone spur usually depends on what position the person is in. Like the article said, when there is pressure placed on that part of the hip bone, the pain will be more intense. So you might want to watch out for this detail.

By burcinc — On Jul 27, 2014

Can a hip bone spur cause pain at the knee instead of at the hip? I have no hip pain, my pain is just at the knee. But it's just as the article described. The pain starts relatively mildly in the morning and then worsens during the day.

I've had x-rays taken of my knee and the doctor did not see anything wrong with my knee. I want to see a different doctor and get checked out for arthritis. I just need to get to the bottom of this pain.

By SteamLouis — On Jul 27, 2014

The very first symptom I developed as a result of a hip bone spur was actually not pain, but limited movement. I could not move my hip joint as freely as before and there was a lot of stiffness. The pain was what followed immediately after.

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