You may have heard of someone having a bone spur in the back or heel of the foot, but thousands who suffer from bone spurs each year experience bone spurs in the hand, wrist, and fingers.
Bony outgrowths can form in places where ligaments and tendons meet bones. Sometimes, people don’t experience symptoms, so the spur in the hand joint goes undiagnosed. There are other cases where the pain is obvious as the outgrowth rubs against surrounding bones, tissues, and nerves.
A bone spur in the hand can feel like a lump under your skin. A bone spur in the wrist usually means the outgrowth is on the surface of the wrist bone. These spurs tend to grow slowly. You can also get a bone spur in the finger.
There are situations where doctors determine a bone spur is linked to an underlying medical condition. These conditions are normally associated with bones and joints, making the person more prone to spurs.
What Are the Causes of Bone Spur in Hand, Wrist, and Fingers?
When a bone gets damaged, the body tries to correct that damage by creating extra bone tissue in the affected area. The problem is that this extra bone tissue gets hard and becomes a bony outgrowth on the edges of the damaged bone. This is what a bone spur is.
So, what are the causes of bone spurs in the hand? Well, they can be the result of a disease or health condition like arthritis, or a trauma like a sports injury.
Here is a brief rundown of the potential bone spur in hand causes:
- Arthritis: This is inflammation in one or more joints. It can put people at risk of bony outgrowths in the hand. Often times, this is due to wear and tear of cartilage from either repetitive tasks or stress to the joints. This is the primary bone spur in wrist cause but there are other bone spur in wrist causes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis of the hand: Inflammation of joints from an injury or degenerative disease like osteoarthritis are conditions that can cause inflammation in the joints of the hands or wrists. This is called post-traumatic arthritis.
- Bone pressure: If there is excess pressure on a bone for any reason, excess bone can form.
- Trauma: The wrist can sustain trauma during sports or even everyday activity, which can cause spurs.
What Are the Risk Factors of Hand Bone Spur?
Whether it’s a bone spur in the hand, a bone spur in the finger base, or a bone spur in the wrist, there are common risk factors for these bony outgrowths.
- Advanced age
- Repetitive stress due to occupation or sports
- Excessive weight
- Unhealthy diet
- Degenerative joint disease
- Family history of bone spurs
Keep in mind that a risk factor does not mean that you will automatically get bone spurs. It simply means that your chances are higher compared to someone who does not have any of the risk factors listed above.
Symptoms of Bone Spur in Hand, Wrist, and Fingers
The symptoms that people with bone spurs in the hand experience include pain, tenderness, and swelling. Those who have osteoarthritis will most likely have reduced joint mobility. The bony projections can also make a person’s fingers look disfigured.
Here are some symptoms associated with a bone spur in the finger base:
- Bony mass under the skin of the affected finger
- Extreme pain in the finger
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the finger
- Restricted range of motion of the finger
Here is some bone spur in the wrist symptoms:
- Bony mass that appears under the skin of the wrist
- Extreme pain in the wrist
- Numbness or weakness around the wrist
- A tingling sensation in the wrist when surrounding areas are pinched
- Limited range of motion of the wrist
Diagnosis of Bone Spur in Hand
Bone spurs are diagnosed using several procedures, including a complete physical examination along with a thorough review of medical history. Tests such as X-rays and other imaging techniques that can look at bones, muscle, and nerve activity are also used in diagnosing bone spurs.
The following list outlines specific tests:
- X-ray: This non-invasive technique uses radiation to produce images of bone.
- Computerized tomography (CT): A CT takes a series of images from different angles to create a cross-section view of bones and soft tissues.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI is a detailed scan of interior bones and soft tissues.
- Electromyography (EMG): This shows the electrical activity of the muscle during rest and muscle contraction. This test is usually used if muscle or nerve damage is suspected.
- Nerve conduction velocity (NCV): This test shows the speed at which electrical signals move through an affected nerve. If the nerve signal is slow, it could be a sign of nerve damage.
There are some situations whereby bone spurs cause severe pain by affecting surrounding nerves and tendons. This can happen when spurs go untreated. In extreme circumstances, surgery may be needed. However, there are cases where the relief is short-lived and the spur grows back.
Treatment Methods for Bone Spur in Hand, Fingers, and Wrist
More often than not, bone spur in the hand involves stiffness and a reduced range of motion, so physical therapy is one of the more common treatment methods. Depending on where the spur is specifically located and how severe the symptoms are, one or more of the following bone spur in the hand treatment options may help.
- Exercise: This can help to maximize the patient’s hand function but should be done under the supervision of a qualified physical or occupational therapist. Using hot water baths may decrease some of the pain and stiffness, making the exercises easier to withstand. Exercises for bone spurs in the hand tend to be most effective in the early stages of a spur forming.
- Rest: Bone spur in the wrist treatment often includes rest from activities that could aggravate symptoms. Other treatments can then be added, including medications.
- Medications: Some doctors will prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, especially if osteoarthritis is the issue. While this type of medication doesn’t address the bony growth, it can provide relief from pain. Medications are considered an option for bone spur in the finger treatment, as well as bone spur in the wrist treatment.
- Injections: There are people who seem to respond better to injections of steroids into the affected joints. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that steroid injections can be used to provide pain relief for several months but can’t be repeated indefinitely.
- Surgery: This is an option when other non-invasive treatments are ineffective. Bone spur in hand surgery can include reconstructing a joint, fusing a joint, or even replacing a joint with an artificial one. The common surgical procedure for bone spur in the finger is to remove the abnormal bony growth in the affected finger. Bone spur in the wrist surgery is also performed in extreme cases.
The less aggressive approaches are obviously preferable. For instance, rest and exercise are usually safe. Doctors also advise those who suffer from bone spurs in the hand to avoid long stretches of time on the computer. A wrist brace is sometimes suggested to help reduce further damage.
If you do use a computer a lot for work purposes and you have a hand spur, make sure the keyboard is at a relaxing level and your wrist is not bent in an upward position. Also, take rest periods from typing.
Home Remedies for Bone Spur in Hand
We have a few suggestions in terms of home remedies for bone spur in the hand. The effectiveness of these remedies varies from person-to-person so if one home remedy doesn’t work then you might want to try another one.
- Cold pack: Putting some ice cubes in a towel and applying it to the affected area in five to 10-minute intervals can help relieve pain and swelling associated with bone spurs in the hand. You can use an ice pack as often as you like.
- Ginger: You can either boil one tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger, strain and add honey to consume a ginger tea, or massage the affected area with ginger oil on a daily basis. Some people also consume ginger tablets.
- Apple cider vinegar: Taking a glass of water mixed with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and drinking the mix twice a day is a potential option. You can also put a paper towel that has been soaked in apple cider vinegar for a few hours over the affected area, since the vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Flaxseed: Soaking a clean cloth in flaxseed oil and putting it on the affected area along with a heating pad is soothing to some people who suffer from a bone spur in the hand.
- Chamomile: Adding one tablespoon of fresh chamomile flower to a cup of hot water, letting it cool, and then using the water to wash the affected area is considered a bone spur home remedy. You can also drink two to three cups of chamomile tea each day.
Bone Spur in Hand Prevention
If you want to avoid a bone spur in the hand, including the finger or wrist, then reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy body weight, take frequent breaks when working at a computer or doing other repetitive work, use protective equipment when participating in high-impact sports, and exercise regularly.
While not all spurs can be prevented, taking some simple measures like the ones mentioned above can help reduce your chances of getting a hand spur or limit the severity of the bony growth.
Prognosis of Bone Spur in Hand
In most cases, the prognosis of bone spurs in the wrist and bone spurs in the finger are good. In fact, symptoms are often handled with conservative treatment. Sometimes, stubborn and painful bone spurs will require surgery and occasionally recurrent bone spurs will be a problem.
Bone spurs in the hand can be painful and limiting. The sight of an unusual lump under the skin can also be frightening. In the majority of cases though, bone spurs are not a reason to panic. Having said this, recognizing a bony growth and getting is assessed, as well as addressed quickly, is your best bet at avoiding pain and limited hand function.
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