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Spurring of Tibial Spines in Humans

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 5/29/2011

Tibial bone spurs develop on the shin and can cause pain and threaten knee or ankle mobility. When this occurs, surgery may be needed to remove the bone spurs.

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    Spurring of tibial spines in humans occurs on the tibia, the shin bone. Spurs are boney growths, which can develop on the edge of any bone in the body. The spurs themselves aren't threatening, but they can cause complications. They rub against the surrounding tissue and nerves, resulting in pain. Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs typically form near joints, but they can also be found near ligaments and tendons. It is common for tibial spurs to develop just below the knee or just above the ankle.

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    Causes

    Tibial bone spurs often develop as a result of osteoarthritis. This condition causes the cartilage in the joints to deteriorate. As a result, the body tries to replenish the loss by creating new bone along the existing bone, which causes bone spurs to develop. Bone spurs are also a common part of the aging process and form naturally without an underlying cause. In these cases, tibial spurs develop as the body tries to stabilize itself against aging joints.

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    Symptoms

    Some people with spurring of tibial spines never experience any symptoms, but for others pain can develop in the joints. Some people even being to lose mobility of the affected joints. If the tibial spurs occur close to the knee, the knee can be difficult to bend or extend.

    Sometimes, bone spurs can break away from the tibia. If this occurs, the spurs can then become lodged in the knee or ankle and the lining of the joints. This can cause the knee or the ankle to essentially lock into one position. In this case, there is usually a feeling of something preventing the knee or ankle from moving. This condition can come and go, as the loose bone spurs move within the affected area.

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    Treatment

    In order to treat tibial bone spurs, a proper diagnosis is needed. This requires a physical examination. In some cases, the spurs will be large enough to be seen or felt through the skin. A physician will closely examine the area and observe how the affected joint is functioning. To confirm the physician’s suspicion of tibial bone spurs, an x-ray, CT scan or MRI may be conducted.

    If bone spurs aren’t causing any pain of affecting a patient's range of motion, treatment may not be needed; however, if pain and loss of mobility occurs, medications may be used to reduce pain and inflammation. If these medications aren’t effective, surgery may be required to remove the the spurs. There are now minimally invasive procedures that can be performed to treat bone spurs. After the spurs are removed, pain should decrease and mobility should increase. Surgery is typically an effective form of treatment for this condition.

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    References

    "Bone Spurs," http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bone-spurs/DS00627/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

    "Bone Spurs," http://www.emedicinehealth.com/bone_spurs/article_em.htm