An osteophyte is a type of bone spur that forms along the edges of joints. Doctors find people who have osteoarthritis or tendonitis are the most likely to develop them. The symptoms associated with osteophytes are widely varied depending on where they form. Typically, individuals can expect pain and loss of movement in the affected joint. The location also affects treatment, though this typically involves anti-inflammatory medicine and removal through surgery. Osteophytes in the legs, hips, and spine are the most common, but they can develop at any joint.
Doctors commonly refer to osteophytes as bone spurs. However, this is not entirely correct. All osteophytes are bone spurs, but not all bone spurs are osteophytes. Osteophytes can develop several unique features that set them apart; for one thing, they specifically form inside or along the edges of the joints, while other types of bone spurs can occur in areas such as the ear canal or the palate of the mouth, as well as many other locations. Doctors often choose not to distinguish between the terms because the differences are difficult to discern and are ultimately negligible in many cases.
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