Bone spurs and calcium deposits can form after an injury or as a part of aging. Both bone spurs and calcium deposits can cause significant pain and affect joint mobility if they are located in or around joints. When symptoms are severe or interfere with daily activities, medical treatment may be needed.
Bone spurs are small bony growths that form on bones. Bone spurs are usually smooth and found at the ends or edges of bones, particularly when two bones come together to form a joint. Common locations for bone spurs include the heels, knees, fingers, elbows, hips, shoulders, neck and spine. Bone spurs may occur when the body tries to heal damage or stress to cartilage or bone. Not all spurs are painful, and you may only notice pain if a bone spur presses on a nearby nerve, bone or tissue. St. John Providence Health System reports that older people are more prone to developing bone spurs, but notes that spurs can occur in young athletes or dancers because of added stress on ligaments, tendons and muscles. Bone spurs may be more likely to occur if you have such conditions as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, spondylosis or plantar fasciitis.
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Calcium deposits are small, hard areas of calcium that can form after a bone or tissue is stressed or damaged. When an injury or stress occurs, calcium travels through the bloodstream to the injured area to help repair damage. In some cases, the damaged area may receive more calcium than is needed. If this occurs, the extra calcium remains in the bone or tissue and eventually hardens into a deposit. Calcium deposits can develop in organs, arteries, breasts, joints, cartilage and tendons.
If a bone spur or calcium deposit is located inside a joint or deep in a tissue, you won't notice any outward signs. Bone spurs that form close to the skin may look like small bumps under your skin. When a bone spur develops in your shoulder, you may find it difficult to move your arm normally and may experience problems with your rotator cuff, a group of muscles that help hold the shoulder in place. Spinal bone spurs can compress spinal nerves, which may cause numbness or pain in your arms, legs or other parts of your body. If spurs develop in your knee, moving your knee normally can be painful. Spurs on your heel can make walking difficult, while neck spurs can press against structures or veins, limiting the flow of blood to your brain or making it hard to swallow. Calcium deposits can cause problems when they press against tendons or nerves, causing pain and making normal movement difficult.
Taking high amounts of vitamin D supplements can increase your risk of developing calcium deposits. MedlinePlus reports that too much vitamin D can make the intestines absorb too much calcium, causing high levels of calcium in the blood. If this occurs, you may be more likely to develop calcium deposits, particularly in the lungs and heart; kidney stones or kidney damage; nausea; confusion; weakness; lack of appetite; weight loss; or constipation.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.