Osteophyte risk factors can be traced almost exclusively to the natural aging process. As we age, spinal ligaments and joints that connect the vertebrae begin to break down, threatening spinal stability. The body attempts to compensate for this diminished stability by producing osteophytes, which are smooth, bony growths. Most of the time, bone spurs exhibit no symptoms – many people never even realize they have developed osteophytes. However, if the bony growths begin to irritate the spinal cord or compress an adjacent nerve root, symptoms can become debilitating.
Osteophytes, or bone spurs, are commonly found along the spine, but they can grow in other areas of the body, too, often on or near joints. Osteophyte risk factors include:
- The presence of arthritis of the spine
- Thinning intervertebral discs (which may allow vertebrae to rub against one another and produce friction that can lead to bone spurs)
- Age (most people over the age of 50 have bone spurs)
- Being involved in sports
- Bone deformities
- Poor posture
Compressed Nerve Symptoms
The area of the body experiencing symptoms depends on the location of the bone spurs, which can occur at any level of the spine but are most common in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions. Symptoms associated with osteophytes that cause nerve compression include:
- Weakness in the extremities
- Tingling, or a pins-and-needles sensation
- Severe neck or back pain
- Restricted movement
- Radiating arm or leg pain
Treating Spinal Osteophytes
While the aging process obviously is irreversible, there are ways to mitigate the potentially debilitating effects of osteophytes. These include maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and making a habit of good posture – especially during extended periods of sitting. Should osteophyte growth lead to nerve compression, symptoms normally can be managed through the use of pain medication and physical therapy. However, if chronic neck or back pain related to osteophyte growth persists despite weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option.
Rather than settle for highly invasive, extremely disruptive, traditional open back surgery, tens of thousands of patients have turned to Laser Spine Institute for relief from bone spur compresssion. Contact?Laser Spine?Institute?to learn how our orthopedic specialists use ?safe and effective, endoscopic techniques to perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to help you rediscover your life without neck or back pain.