An osteophyte (bone spur) is a small, irregular bony outgrowth from a joint surface, usually seen in relation to osteoarthritis.

Page updated February 2024 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)

Bone spur in osteoarthritic knee

Osteophyte in an osteoarthritic knee. 


How do osteophytes develop?

Bone is in constant flux, with bone being broken down in some areas and generated in others. Sometimes an imbalance forms and a spur of excess bone develops at an edge. This is called an 'osteophyte' or 'bone mushroom'. Large osteophytes are associated with knee pain and osteoarthritis progression. Small ones in younger patients seem to be transient.

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What is the relationship of osteophytes to osteoarthritis?

In bones that are under mechanical stress, such as in osteoarthritis, larger osteophytes may be triggered, again at the lip of the joint.

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Dr Sheila Strover (Editor)
BSc (Hons), MB BCh, MBA

See biography...