How physicians diagnose a bone spur

A bone spur — which can occur along the edge of any bone — is a rounded, bony growth that generally forms on joints and remains asymptomatic. In fact, many people have bone spurs and never know it. On rare occasions, however, these growths can impinge on nerves and other elements of the body, limiting motion, causing pain and leading to other symptoms. People who suspect that they have symptomatic bone spurs should turn to their physicians for confirmation.

Physicians perform several tests to locate the cause of symptoms

Patients with suspected spinal bone spurs can turn to their primary care physicians for help. These physicians can review each patient’s medical history and perform physical exams to understand the cause of any symptoms. If a physician thinks the root of the pain, discomfort or numbness is a bone spur, he or she will recommend other steps that can provide a much closer look at the affected area and make a specific diagnosis possible. Some of these options include:

  • Radiographs/X-rays, which allow medical professionals to see the affected bones and compare progress of the condition over time
  • CT scans (in conjunction with radiographs), which help pinpoint the location of the bone spur by providing a cross-section view of the body
  • Electro-conductive tests, like EMG and nerve conduction tests, which can help eliminate other nerve compression sources from possible contributing factors

Diagnosis is just the start

Once a patient is diagnosed with a spinal bone spur, the discussion about appropriate treatments can begin. Generally, physicians recommend that patients use conservative measures to manage their symptoms. These steps might include taking pain relievers, performing exercises to strengthen the back muscles and having corticosteroid injections at the site of the pain. If these steps aren’t enough to adequately manage symptoms, sometimes surgery is recommended.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive surgical options for spinal bone spur patients. For information about bone spur diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures, contact us today.