Bone spurs in the shoulder (also known as “osteophytes”) are formations on the joints which often are often a result of arthritis due to aging. One of the most common areas a bone spur in the shoulder develops is under the acromion of the shoulder. Also, those whose jobs or sports require repetitive overhead movement are at risk for this condition. The bone spurs form as the tissue between the shoulder joint deteriorates which causes the bones of the shoulder to begin to rub together.
The tendons that comprise the shoulder and allow it to move in every direction pass through a narrow canal. Bone spurs in the shoulder are often problematic and painful because it narrows the space within the shoulder joint and irritates the rotator cuff tendons. When pinched by a bone spur, the rotator cuff tendons become frayed and irritated which can result in pain, loss of mobility and muscle spasms.
Typically, there are three ways to treat this condition:
- Activity modification—specifically related to overhead movements—helps relieve symptoms. Over time, patients learn what movements trigger symptoms and are then able to modify activity to avoid those movements. While these activities are being avoided, the tendons and ligaments of the shoulder can become less irritated and potentially heal the condition.
- Non–surgical treatments can effectively treat patients with mild symptoms. Common treatments include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and therapeutic steroid injections.
- Surgical treatments are necessary when non-surgical options fail to provide relief. Surgery involves the use of arthroscopic instruments to trim or remove the bone spurs in the shoulder and open the joint space. If the rotator cuff tendons are torn, they may also be repaired during the same procedure. In almost all cases, patients are able to return home the same day as their procedure and recovery takes only a few short weeks.
What to do if you think you have this condition?
The first step is consulting an Orthopedic Surgeon so that they can perform detailed physical exam to determine which areas of the shoulder is affected by the bone spur. Typically, an X-Ray or MRI will show exactly where the bone spurs in the shoulder are located. Based on the location or severity of the injury, the Orthopedic Surgeon can create a treatment plan based on your individual goals and lifestyle.
At Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates, our team consists of Fellowship-Trained and Board Certified Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Specialists. Our team has extensive experience treating bone spurs in the shoulder, shoulder arthritis and injuries. We offer a full spectrum of treatment options that include conservative treatment and Physical Therapy. We also offer the latest advancements in arthroscopic surgery and tendon repair. Contact our offices in Duxbury or Sandwich to schedule a consultation with one of our experts!