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Symptoms of Bone Spurs in the Shoulder

by
author image Jacques Courseault
As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician I have extensive experience in musculoskeletal/neurological medicine that will benefit the network.
Symptoms of Bone Spurs in the Shoulder
Pain is a common symptom of bone spurs in the shoulder. Photo Credit bat tattoo on the shoulder image by Xavier MARCHANT from Fotolia.com

Bone spurs in the shoulder joint are most commonly caused by osteoarthritis, states MayoClinic.com. Bone spurs form in response to the wear and tear breakdown of cartilage in the shoulder joint from overuse, aging or injury. Bone spurs that form in the shoulder joint may not necessarily cause symptoms, but patients who have large bone spurs that pinch nerves or decrease space in the shoulder joint can experience significant symptoms. Therefore, a patient with significant shoulder pain should schedule an appointment with his doctor for the proper assessment and treatment of shoulder pain or limited mobility.

Pain

The most common symptom of bone spur formation in the shoulder is pain according to MayoClinic.com. If osteoarthritis is the cause of bone spur formation, then pain is worse when a patient starts activities, or during a period of inactivity, according to Medline Plus, of the National Institutes of Health. This occurs because bone spurs in the shoulder joint can compress nearby sensory nerves in the shoulder joint that are located in surrounding bone, muscle, and other soft tissue. These sensory nerves then send pain signals to the brain, which results in the patient's experience of pain in the shoulder joint. Pain is typically described as dull and achy, but may be described as sharp with certain movements. In addition, pain is generally worse with activity and better with rest. In most cases, conservative treatments are preferred, such as rest, ice therapy, and over-the-counter medications, but surgery may be required for severe development of bone spurs in the shoulders.

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Swelling

MayoClinic.com states that swelling is a common symptom of the formation of bone spurs that form in the shoulder. This occurs because bone-on-bone rubbing causes the body's immune system to release certain chemicals that can cause swelling in the shoulder. Swelling may cause the shoulder to look larger than the patient's other shoulder. Swelling in the shoulder may also be red and warm to touch. Furthermore, swelling can significantly reduce the patient's shoulder mobility. If swelling is a problem, a patient should try to keep his shoulder elevated above the level of his heart so gravity can reduce the amount of fluid in the shoulder joint. A patient should also schedule an appointment with his physician for the proper assessment and treatment of shoulder swelling.

Limited Motion

A patient with bone spurs in the shoulder joint may experience limitations in mobility of the shoulder joint. This occurs because bone spurs may form in the shoulder joint that can impinge the rotator cuff, can rub on other bone, or can limit the movement of the humeral head, or the upper arm bone. In this case, limited motion caused by large bone spurs in the shoulder joint will likely not be treated conservatively. If mobility is severely limited, and limits the patient's ability to perform normal hobbies and physical activities, surgery will likely be needed to remove the bone spurs from the shoulder joint. Risks of surgery include infection, excessive bleeding, and possible nerve damage. Therefore, the risks and benefits of each procedure should be thoroughly discussed with the patient.

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