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Bone Spurs In The Knee

Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are abnormal growths that can form along any bony surface in the body. They most frequently occur where tendons and ligaments attach to the bone. As a result, they are more commonly seen in large mobile joints that support weight, such as the hips, spine, ankles, or knees.

Surprisingly, most bone spurs are relatively benign but are a clinical sign of instability in the area (1). Research demonstrates that if a ligament has laxity, the constant strain at the insertion into the bone will elevate the surface of the bone, creating additional bone formation – this is known as a traction osteophyte.  

In certain circumstances though, bone spurs that appear in the knee can be excruciatingly painful, restrict your movement, or impact your quality of life. This can make activities like walking, climbing stairs, or standing up from a chair become more challenging and uncomfortable.

Those with osteoarthritis or other degenerative disorders, as well as injuries that damage the cartilage or ligaments in the knees, are more likely to develop bone spurs. They may develop quickly, bringing with them debilitating or painful symptoms.

What Are Bone Spurs In The Knee?

Bone spurs can form if the cartilage in the knee degenerates and wears down. The cartilage, or ‘meniscus’, is the natural cushioning and shock-absorbing component of the knee and may degenerate as a result of arthritis, trauma, or normal wear and tear from aging. 

This causes the bones of the knee to rub against each other, where the cartilage would normally provide soft cushioning between them.

As a result, whenever the knee is strained through movement or put under pressure, the touching knee bones become irritated and inflamed. In an effort to protect the joint, cells respond by creating more bone growth, resulting in the formation of additional bony outgrowths.

Alternatively, injured or overstretched ligaments of the knee from a sports injury or overuse can cause instability. The bones of the knee grow bone spurs in an effort to provide extra stability.  However, as this is not their normal function, it may cause complications. The presence of bone spurs is a sign of underlying instability in many joints.

Bone spurs can form anywhere inside or outside of the knee joint where they may cause pain, swelling, or stiffness. They may even affect the knee’s appearance. In more severe cases, or if left untreated, bone spurs can grow large and disrupt knee alignment, limiting the knee’s mobility over time.

Symptoms Of Bone Spurs In Knee

Bone spurs might not necessarily become problematic. However, these extra bone outgrowths run the risk of damaging surrounding tissues like muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, or nerves. This may impact how well the knee can mobilize, or cause pain and discomfort.

There are some key signs and symptoms that can indicate the development of bone spurs within the knee. You should see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

Pain And Swelling

Pain may be felt when bending or straightening the knee, which can feel like a sharp pinching or aching sensation. Swelling can also occur and may come and go depending on the level of activity in the knee.

When a bone spur presses on or shears against nearby structures, it irritates those tissues, resulting in pain and swelling (edema). Significant knee pain or swelling can reduce joint mobility and induce stiffness, which may interfere with normal knee alignment.

Palpable Bumpy Areas

Bone spurs on the surface of the knee joint are sometimes palpable and felt as bumpy areas when you move your hands across the skin. In some cases, they may also be visible as obvious growths that protrude around the knee joint.

Numbness And Weakness

When they grow, bone spurs can compress all components of the knee joint, putting pressure where it would not normally be. This can negatively impact the knee’s tendons, muscles, and nerves, causing feelings of weakness or numbness.

Weakness is felt because the protrusion of the bone spur reduces the strength of the muscles and tendons that support the joint. A numb sensation occurs if the bone spur happens to pinch or compress nearby nerves, preventing its normal nerve signaling.

Bruising in Knee

Bruising in the knee, also known as a knee contusions, is an uncomfortable yet common condition that occurs when you strike your knee with force or a symptom of a knee condition. When the tiny blood vessels are damaged and blood leaks out beneath the skin, causing the typical swelling and red/purple discoloration seen in these injuries, it is termed a bruise or contusion. Although a knee contusion does not usually require medical intervention, you may need to visit your doctor to ensure that you do not have a more significant problem. If you hurt your knee and have swelling/pain that gets worse instead of better…

Read More About Bruising in Knee

Burning Pain on Outside of Knee When Kneeling

There are many possible causes of burning pain on the outside of the knee while kneeling. One possibility is that you may have patellofemoral syndrome, which is a condition that results in pain around the kneecap. This pain can be aggravated by activities such as kneeling or squatting. Other potential causes of this type of pain include iliotibial band syndrome, runners knee, and meniscal tears. If you are experiencing burning pain on the outside of your knee while kneeling, it is important to see a doctor for evaluation. Some of these conditions can be treated with conservative measures such as rest, ice, and physical therapy…

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Can’t Straighten Knee

Your knee is capable of moving in a number of directions. The most common are flexion and extension. Flexion is when you bend your knee and the shin bone moves towards the buttock. Knee extension is when you straighten out your knee. The extension is the opposite of flexion. PT, trainers, and physicians alike measure the degree of knee flexion and extension. When lying flat on an examination table or hard surface your knee should be able to extend so that there is no angle between the thigh and shin bone. The inability to straighten the knee is also known as an extension lag and is a reason for concern.

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Knee Buckling

Knees can buckle, causing a sensation of one or both knees giving out that affects nearly 17% of adults. The knees are regarded to be one of the most essential (and biggest) joints in the human body because they play significant roles in basic activities such as walking and sitting. When our knees begin to feel unstable, weak, or begin giving out, it is easy to become stressed since we rely so heavily on them for movement. The knee can become stable from numerous types of injuries. The knee is kept stable by the following structures: Tendons attach the leg muscles…

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Knee Hurts When I Bend It and Straighten It

Your knees bend countless times throughout the day. Running up the stairs, down the hall after kids, and getting into the car. You straighten the knee as you walk, descend stairs or get into and out of the car. Bending and straightening the knee are necessary for daily activities. Knee pain with bending or straightening may be a mild, transient irritation or may indicate a more significant problem. Learn more below and avoid further injury and dysfunction. Knee pain can vary significantly depending upon many factors including the actual source of the pain, the severity of the injury, general health, and level of activity…

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Knee Pain

Knee pain can be caused by many factors. Overuse injuries, direct trauma to the knee and arthritis are the most common causes of knee pain. Damage to the knee structures may cause swelling, scar tissue formation (fibrosis), and loss of function of the joint. Pain is often accompanied by difficulty walking, weakness, and instability. When the knee is overused, the thigh and shin bones (femur and tibia), cartilage, or tendons may experience stress. This leads to pain and discomfort as well as stiffness in the knee. Overuse injuries are common among athletes who participate in sports that involve running, jumping…

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Knee Swelling

Swelling of the knee, also known as water on the knee, is a condition in which fluid collects around the knee joint. Swelling can occur for a variety of reasons and affect patients of any age. Some swelling can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, but persistent and continuous swelling might result in tissue damage, bone softening, and cartilage deterioration. Over-the-counter medicines will assist relieve pain for individuals with a history of osteoarthritis and swelling following physical activity, such as exercise or running. During and after activity, the patient may apply compression sleeves to reduce the inflammation. Ice is another method…

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Outside Knee Pain

What causes outside knee pain? How do you treat it? Let us go over all of this and also review how one patient avoided a huge surgery. What is On the Outside of the Knee? You have a couple of key structures here (1). They include the: Lateral meniscus, Lateral joint compartment, Popliteus tendon, Iliotibial band, Lateral collateral ligament , and anterolateral ligament, and Fibula. The meniscus is a figure-8 shaped fibrous structure (shown here from above) that is a shock absorber for the knee joint. It has an outside part (lateral meniscus) that cushions the joint. The meniscus can become torn or degenerated. If you are young…

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Common Causes Of Bone Spurs In The Knee

The primary cause of bone spurs in the knee is the degeneration of its cartilage (meniscus) or knee instability from overstretched or damaged ligaments. Consequently, bone spurs can develop as a result of any incident or condition that causes damage, inflammation, or instability to the meniscus or knee ligaments. The following is a list of potential causes of bone spurs:

Joint Damage & Degeneration (Osteoarthritis)

Osteoarthritis causes inflammation and degeneration of the meniscus and knee joints. As the bone attempts to repair the damage and stabilize the knee, it stimulates additional bone growth, which can result in the formation of bone spurs.

Additionally, a sports injury such as an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear may weaken the knee, causing triggering bone spurs to form to compensate for the torn ligament and offer extra support.


Nearly all of our daily movements, including walking, sitting, standing, or rotating, involve the knee. Furthermore, the knee is also used during sports or exercise, which may be high-impact. Years of repetitive use and potential damage can cause weakness and instability in the knee’s ligaments and meniscus, increasing the probability of bone spurs.

Lifestyle and Genetic Factors

Bone spurs in the knee can be caused by a variety of lifestyle factors, such as diet, age, and body weight. Those over 60 are most likely to develop them, but younger athletes and those who participate in high-impact sports may also be at increased risk.

The development of bone spurs is more likely to occur in those who have inflammatory diseases like gout or osteoarthritis, which are more prevalent in older people.

Additionally, a diet deficient in adequate nutrients can result in weakened or easily damaged knee bones, increasing the probability of bone spurs growing. Excess body weight, on the other hand, can put additional strain on the knee joint, increasing the chance of injury and, as a result, the formation of bone spurs.

Genetics can also play a role in the development of bone spurs. If either of your parents or a close relative has them, you are likely to develop them as well. Additionally, having a genetic bone-related medical disorder such as osteoporosis, or an auto-immune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, can also increase the risk of bone spurs developing.

Common Treatments For Bone Spurs In The Knee

There are many different treatment options for bone spurs. Most focus on controlling symptoms and keeping them from getting worse. To minimize medication use and, if possible, surgery, the least-invasive form of effective treatment should be prioritized. Your doctor or specialist may suggest the following treatments:

Over-The-Counter Medications

Some over-the-counter medications can temporarily relieve the pain and inflammation caused by bone spurs. Tylenol (generic name paracetamol or acetaminophen) is a widely available analgesic which may provide some short-term relief from mild to moderate pain. 

Additionally, Naproxen (generic name Aleve or Aflaxen) is an effective anti-inflammatory often used in treating the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and other degenerative conditions. But not recommended for long-term use. 


Relieving the everyday and recreational stressors on your knees by resting will help prevent ongoing damage to the knee joint. Sufficient rest can help to relieve the ongoing aggravation of the knee joint, reducing discomfort and swelling.


Injections of corticosteroids are used to treat bone spurs in the knee by significantly reducing pain and inflammation. Corticosteroid injections are frequently used to treat degenerative disorders such as arthritis, as well as to slow disease development.

It’s important to understand that it does not remove or heal the bone spurs, so further injections may be required for ongoing symptom relief.

Physical Therapy

Strength and conditioning exercises can help alleviate the stiffness and discomfort associated with bone spurs in the knee. Strengthening the muscles and ligaments surrounding the knee will help improve stability, promote proper biomechanics, and reduce the impact bone spurs have on your day-to-day mobility.


Surgeries, such as an ‘arthroscopic osteophyte excision’ or a ‘partial or total knee replacement’, can be performed to remove bone spurs in the knee.

An arthroscopic osteophyte excision is performed in an operating room using small incisions on either side of the knee. The surgeon uses small instruments to shave down the additional bony growths and remove the bone spurs.

A partial or even total knee replacement may be recommended for the treatment of complex bone spurs. This type of highly-invasive surgery is more often performed to treat the underlying diseases that lead to bone spurs, such as severe arthritis. 

As the knee joint is completely or partially replaced, any damaged or diseased tissue is restored with a prosthetic. The artificial knee can then operate normally as pain and inflammation are reduced.

Surgery should be a last resort for bone spurs and only be considered if all other conservative treatments have been unsuccessful. This is because surgery carries significant risks and requires extensive rehabilitation after the operation. It is therefore important to speak with a specialized physician about all of your potential treatment options.


Regenexx procedures are an innovative, non-invasive, non-surgical treatment option for bone spurs in the knee. They involve taking a sample of your bone marrow or blood and isolating plus concentrating the important healing and regenerative components. 

This concentrated solution, which is rich in your body’s healing factors, is then injected directly into the affected area of the knee. For the best outcomes and safety, all Centeno-Schultz doctors use ultrasound and X-ray guidance to precisely administer the Regenexx injection.

If the underlying condition creating a bone spur is instability of the ligaments around the knee, we treat these ligaments, allowing them to strengthen which in turn stops bone spurs from continuing.

Bone marrow concentrate and platelets have the ability to restore and heal damaged tissues. This may aid in the healing and strengthening of the knee’s deteriorated structures, such as the meniscus or weakened ligaments.

For instance, the meniscus’ ability to cushion the joint and the ligaments’ ability to stabilize it may both recover. Once the damaged structures begin to heal and recover, the knee is restored to normal function, and pain and inflammation are reduced.

Because Regenexx utilizes the body’s natural regeneration properties, it removes the need for some drugs and more invasive surgical therapies, resulting in fewer side effects and a shorter recovery period.

Knee Arthroscopy Surgery

Knee arthroscopy surgery is a very common procedure performed by orthopedic surgeons in an attempt to treat knee pain. Knee arthroscopic surgery is typically performed in an outpatient surgical facility where a small camera is inserted into the knee joint, which allows the surgeon an inside view of one’s knee to operate. It is used both to diagnose and treat a wide variety of knee problems. Utilizing arthroscopic surgery the surgeon can trim any damaged ligaments which are called knee ligament surgery.  Alternatively, if ‘damaged’ meniscus is detected, it also is trimmed and or removed, which is called meniscus knee surgery.

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Nerve Hydrodissection

Nerve Hydrodissection is a medical procedure that aims to free up scar tissue or adhesions on a given peripheral nerve. The procedure utilizes ultrasound guidance to visualize both the needle and the targeted nerve. Medication is then injected through the needle to free up the scar tissue. Nerve Hydrodissection is a minimally invasive treatment option for many peripheral nerves that are compressed or entrapped by scar tissue.Pain is an uncomfortable and at times painful sensation. It varies significantly from patient to patient. There are many different types of pain which include inflammatory, nociceptive, and neuropathic. Neuropathic pain is pain that arises from nerve compression or injury.

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Prolotherapy Injections

It has been successful in the treatment of many disorders including neck, shoulder, knee, and ankle pain. Dr. Centeno recently published an article in The Journal of Prolotherapy in which he discusses the use of x-ray guidance with prolotherapy. This ensures that the injection is in the correct place to maximize clinical results. Dr. Centeno discusses the use of prolotherapy for the treatment of neck, knee, sacroiliac joint, ankle, ischial tuberosity, and shoulder pain. At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic x-ray guided prolotherapy is just one of the therapies utilized in the successful treatment of pain. Regenerative injection therapy (RIT) or prolotherapy…

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PRP Injections

PRP is short for platelet-rich plasma, and it is autologous blood with concentrations of platelets above baseline values. The potential benefit of platelet-rich plasma has received considerable interest due to the appeal of a simple, safe, and minimally invasive method of applying growth factors. PRP treatments are a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the blood healing factors to help the body repair itself by means of injecting PRP into the damaged tissue. In regenerative orthopedics, it is typically used for the treatment of muscle strains, tears, ligament and tendon tears, minor arthritis, and joint instability. There have been more than 30 randomized controlled trials of PRP…

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Tenex Procedure

The Tenex Health TX® System is a minimally-invasive, percutaneous procedure using ultrasonic energy to treat pain-generating soft and hard tissue conditions. This treatment is clinically proven to remove tendon pain for over 85% of patients1,2,3,4,5. If conservative approaches such as physical therapy, cortisone injections, medication, and downtime do not provide relief, Tenex may be your next option.Using this technique, we help patients restore musculoskeletal function, may provide quick pain relief, and avoid invasive surgery and dangerous drugs. Tenex may also be effective if you have had a failed surgical procedure. Your doctor will use image-guidance to identify and target the…

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Can You Prevent a Bone Spur In Your Knee?

Although it is difficult to prevent bone spurs in the knee caused by conditions such as arthritis, there are several measures that may help delay long-term, detrimental effects.

Maintaining good knee joint health, for example, is essential for preventing or slowing the formation of bone spurs in the knee. Healthy knee joints can be promoted by:

  • Consuming a varied and healthy diet rich in macronutrients and micronutrients (e.g., vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium)
  • Losing any extra weight to reduce stress and the sheering impact on the knees
  • Wearing appropriate footwear for adequate support and cushioning
  • Ensuring the knee joints are sufficiently warmed up before high-impact activities

A Solution To Bone Spurs In The Knee

Bone spurs in the knee form as a result of soft cartilage deterioration or from instability caused by injured or overstretched ligaments. The presence of bone spurs in the knee can cause severe pain, swelling, or stiffness and significantly limit your range of motion. This can affect your quality of life, making it difficult to perform daily tasks.

Nutrition, age, body weight, and excessive high-impact exercise can all contribute to the development of bone spurs. The best course of action for treating bone spurs is to act quickly to stop them from worsening, promote complete healing, and provide long-term symptom relief.

Minimally invasive therapies should be utilized whenever possible, as they help to reduce recovery times and avoid risky procedures.

Regenexx therapies are alternative regenerative treatments that can dramatically reduce pain and inflammation. They are a non-invasive, low-risk option that promotes the healing of damaged structures, leading to long-lasting symptom relief.

The team at Centeno-Schultz can provide comprehensive assessments, professional advice, and advanced treatment options for bone spurs in the knee. Centeno-Schultz offers state-of-the-art facilities and alternative treatments which are tailored to your specific needs.

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Christopher J. Centeno, MD

Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…

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John Schultz, MD

John R. Schultz M.D. is a national expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate for orthopedic injuries. He is board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and underwent fellowship training in both. Dr. Schultz has extensive experience with same day as well as culture expanded bone marrow concentrate and sees patients at the CSC Broomfield, Colorado Clinic, as well the Regenexx Clinic in Grand Cayman. Dr. Schultz emphasis is on the evaluation and treatment of thoracic and cervical disc, facet, nerve, and ligament injuries including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). Dr. Schultz trained at George Washington School of…

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John Pitts, M.D.

Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.

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Jason Markle, D.O.

Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.

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Brandon T. Money, D.O., M.S.

Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…

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  • Why Does My Neck Hurt?

    Neck pain can result from various factors, including poor posture, muscle strain, injury, or underlying medical conditions. It can be treated effectively when diagnosed properly. Treatment options may include physical therapy, pain management, exercise, and lifestyle changes to address the root causes of the pain and significantly improve your comfort and quality of life. If…

  • How to Read a Knee MRI for Meniscal Tear

    Dr. Chris Centeno discusses how to read a knee MRI for meniscal tears and what you need to know about such tears. Transcript Hi, this is Dr. Centeno. And I’d like to go over today How to Read Your Knee MRI: Focus on the Meniscus. I have a whole series of these and reading a…

  • How to Dissolve Bone Spurs Naturally

    A bone spur is an abnormal outgrowth of bone that can occur on any bone, tendons, and ligaments.  It can be a source of pain and limit joint mobility. Dr. Schultz discusses the importance of stability and bone spurs and Tenex, a non surgical option for removal of bone spurs.

  • Hip Labral Tear Recovery Without Surgery

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  2. Yadav SS. Traction spur. J Postgrad Med. 1973 Jul;19(3):136-8. PMID: 4793630.
  3. Kasai Y, Kawakita E, Sakakibara T, Akeda K, Uchida A. Direction of the formation of anterior lumbar vertebral osteophytes. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2009 Jan 13;10:4. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-10-4. PMID: 19144120; PMCID: PMC2630963.
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  5. Venne G, Tse MY, Pang SC, Ellis RE. Mechanically-induced osteophyte in the rat knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2020 Jun;28(6):853-864. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2020.02.834. Epub 2020 Mar 5. PMID: 32147535.

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