Bone Spurs: What are Calcium Deposits?

Most of the body’s calcium is contained in the skeleton, with a tiny fraction (about one percent) being used for chemical processes on the cellular level. Calcium that is not absorbed into the bones can form a mass within the body’s soft tissues, including under the skin and in the muscle tissues. This condition is called calcinosis and in many cases can go away on its own. Unfortunately, in many cases it will not.

Calcium deposits can also build up under the tendons in a condition called calcific tendonitis; this type of calcium deposit most often occurs under the rotator cuff. Bone spurs are another type of calcium deposit that shows up along the edges of bones. While bone spurs (also called osteophytes) can occur on any bone, the most common place is in the joints. In most cases, bone spurs occur without any symptoms and go undetected until they are revealed by a test for some other problem. When they do present with symptoms, those usually involve pain or some loss of the joint’s motion.

Symptoms of Calcium Deposits

Calcium deposits can cause inflammation and be extremely painful. Calcific tendonitis can cause stiffness along with the pain, making sleep difficult. When bone spurs create symptoms, those symptoms differ based on where they occur. For example, if a bone spur occurs in the knee joint it may make the act of extending or bending the knee painful. Bone spurs can also occur between the vertebrae of the spine. These calcium deposits can narrow the space for the spinal cord and compress it, the result being that an individual’s limbs become weak or numb. They can also show up in the hands, giving the knuckles and other finger joints a knobby look. Bone spurs may also press on other bones or rub on muscles or tendons, eventually wearing them away and causing swelling or tearing. In the foot they can cause calluses to build up. These calluses can make walking difficult due to the weight of the whole body being placed on the sole of the foot. In some cases, bone spurs in the foot can be the result of arthritis.

The Relationship Between the Different Types of Calcium Deposits

There are many causes of calcium deposits; trauma is a commonly cited one. The different types of calcium deposits result from the body’s attempt to heal itself by sending calcium to the affected area. For example, calcium deposits may show up in the spine near a degenerated disc. They may also show up in a joint that is being overused, such as a baseball player’s shoulder.

Many calcium deposits require surgery as a means of relieving the pain and stopping damage to other tissues. In the short term they may be treated based on where they are located in the body. For example, a calcium deposit in the foot may be treated by using padded insoles or wearing different shoes. Injecting corticosteroids near the site of a calcium deposit may ease the inflammation of surrounding tissues. Weight loss may also be prescribed to help ease the pressure on the area where the calcium deposit has occurred.


If you feel you are suffering from bone spurs or calcium deposits, visit one of our All Spine Surgery Center locations today.