Cervical osteophytes, also known as cervical bone spurs, appear in the spinal vertebrae of the neck. An osteophyte is a bony protuberance that the body produces in response to a weakened spine. However, rather than helping the spine, the bone spurs actually create more problems by infringing on the foramina, which are the open spaces on either side of the vertebrae through which spinal nerves pass.
Cervical Osteophytes and Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints. In the spine, osteoarthritis specifically affects the facet joints, which are the hinges that connect adjacent vertebrae and facilitate the spine’s mobility. These joints are covered by cartilage and, with time, the cartilage begins to wear away, causing the vertebrae to rub together. The friction in and of itself can be painful, but when bone spurs form at the site of the arthritic joints, symptoms can be compounded.
Symptoms of Cervical Osteophytes Resulting from Osteoarthritis
Neural compression due to cervical osteophytes can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain that stays localized in the neck
- Pain that begins in the neck and travels through the shoulders, arms, and hands
- Tingling in the neck and arms
- Hot pain, due to “crepitus,” or bone grinding against bone
- Throbbing or aching
- Spontaneous joint lockage
Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Although osteophytes in the spine will not heal themselves, most patients find that non-invasive, conservative treatments allow them to manage their symptoms effectively. Physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medication, mild stretching, and massage are good methods to begin with. If needed, you can increase your treatment plan to include prescription medication or anti-inflammatory steroid injections. If weeks or months of these treatments do not offer sufficient pain relief, surgery for osteophytes may become an option.
How Can Laser Spine Institute Help?
Many surgeries aimed at combating osteoarthritis or lumbar, thoracic, or cervical osteophytes are open spine operations. These surgeries are massively invasive and involve muscle trauma, the possibility of nerve damage, and hospitalization. However, there are alternatives — Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures that target the source of your neck or back pain. Endoscopic techniques allow for an outpatient procedure, which means you can rediscover your life without pain as quickly as possible. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.