Osteophytes are also called bone spurs. They are usually present when you have osteoarthritis. They are chronic and normally do cause pain and can make the joint where they are much harder to move. If you do get these on your spine then they can press on nerves and be very serious. Any bowel or bladder problem where you can not control it is a medical emergency.
Depending on where you have the osteophytes will depend what kind of symptoms that you will have. If they are pressing on spinal nerves then they can affect your arms and/or legs also. There may also be numbness or tingling involved with this condition. Osteophytes are also common on your ankle. They can form many different places in your body. Most often they are painful.
If they are not causing you pain or problems then they will just observe them. Some people will have them and not even know it. If they are causing symptoms then your doctor will treat the body part that they are coming from.
If they suspect you may have osteophytes then the normal tests to check for these are: x-ray, MRI and CT scan. NSAID medication and maybe physical therapy is usually the first choice of treatment unless you have it very severe then you may need surgery to fix the problem.