Knee bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, may occur at the end of the thigh bone, shin bone, or knee cap in areas where the cartilage has worn away. Although the spur is not painful in and of itself, it may cause inflammation of the surrounding tissues or may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. The symptoms caused by spurs may be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, or surgery.
The thin layer of cartilage that cushions the area where the bones meet in the knee may begin to break down. The cartilage may become frayed or develop pitting. When this happens, the bones try to compensate for the loss of cartilage by growing new bone tissue, or bone spurs. The ends of the bone thicken and the joint loses its shape. Bone spurs commonly occur in the knee, feet, hands, hips or spine.
Most of the time, the spurs do not hurt, but they may cause problems for nearby muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, or tissues. The area around the spur may become red and inflamed. People with knee bone spurs may also notice symptoms of osteoarthritis. Joints may lose range of motion, become more stiff than usual, or take on a deformed shape.
Other knee bone spur symptoms may include pain or a sensation of grating or catching when the knee is moved. A noticeable lump may be felt along the inside of the knee. Standing up from a seated position or walking up and down stairs may become more difficult for people with this condition. Over time, the muscles around the knee might become weak from lack of use. MRI, CT scans or X-rays of the knee will show cartilage degradation and bone spur development.
If the knee bone spur is not causing any pain or limiting ranging of motion, the doctor will probably not prescribe any treatment. On the other hand, if the patient is experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may be prescribed. These may include over-the-counter ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, or ketoprofen. If NSAIDS do not relieve the symptoms, a corticosteroid injection into the joint may be suggested.
Surgery is most often reserved as treatment for patients with knee bone spur symptoms that severely limit their day-to-day lives. The spur removal may be done arthroscopically. In this procedure, several small incisions are made around the knee. As the surgeon looks inside the knee with a small camera, the knee bone spur is removed with special tools. Once the bone spur is taken out, the symptoms should resolve.