Posterior osteophytes refer to bone spurs that develop near the back of the spine. These smooth growths of bone frequently form along the vertebral joints and often accompany the onset of osteoarthritis. Osteophytes can develop either anteriorly or posteriorly. Posterior osteophytes frequently lead to stenosis in the spinal canal and can compress the spinal cord or nerve roots, leading to neck or back pain and other symptoms
Posterior osteophytes most commonly occur in the lumbar spine segment in the lower back because the lumbar spine is particularly prone to deterioration as a result of regular wear and tear. Over the years, the weight burden on the lower back and the twisting and turning of the lumbar spine does eventually begins to take a toll, which is why lower back pain is so common. One of the body’s natural responses to spine deterioration and other bone damage is the ability to create osteophytes. However, bone spurs become painful when they come into contact with soft tissue, nerves and other bones in the spinal column.
One source of back pain is a condition known as spinal stenosis, which is the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal. This form of spinal degeneration becomes painful when posterior osteophytes, herniated intervertebral discs and/or inflamed soft tissue enters the spinal canal and constricts the cord or nerve roots. Symptoms of stenosis include:
- Local, chronic neck or back pain at the site of the constriction
- Pain that radiates along a nerve if a nerve root has become compressed
- Stiffness in the neck or back
- Loss of reflex or motor skills
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- And more
If you are experiencing discomfort as a result of posterior osteophytes and are considering your numerous treatment options, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive techniques. In most cases, neck and back pain can be sufficiently managed with several weeks of conservative treatment, but for those still looking for relief, our outpatient procedures are an appealing alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Call today to schedule your consultation at one of our surgery centers.