Bone Spurs Risk Factors
Bone spurs have a variety of risk factors, but most of all they are a result of the natural aging process. Still, understanding what causes bone spurs to develop is an important part of knowing how to manage any symptoms that might occur. In essence, bone spurs – or osteophytes – are the body’s attempt to compensate for diminished spinal stability caused by degradation within the vertebral joints or ligaments. The name is a misnomer; the growths actually are smooth, not sharp like spurs. Symptoms only occur when an osteophyte grows large enough to irritate or compress a nerve root or the spinal cord.
Causes and Symptoms
As people age, spinal ligaments begin to loosen and the joints where vertebrae meet and flex begin to degenerate. The body’s response is to thicken the ligaments or to grow new bone where the joints no longer provide proper support. This can happen at any level of the spine, but is most common in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions. When ligaments grow too thick or the new bone too large, nerve impingement can result in symptoms like localized or radiating pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness. In addition to the natural aging process, bone spurs have risk factors that include:
- Disc or joint degeneration – which is the case in degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the spine
- Genetics – inherited traits
- A history of injury – whiplash, compression fracture
- Nutrition – obesity or malnutrition from poor eating habits
- Poor posture – slouching while seated or slumped shoulders while standing
Treating Bone Spur Symptoms
Symptoms associated with bone spurs normally can be managed using pain medication, physical therapy, massage or other conservative methods. Surgery might become an option if weeks or months of conservative treatment prove ineffective. Rather than settle for highly invasive traditional back or neck surgery, tens of thousands of patients have found relief at Laser Spine Institute. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using effective, endoscopic techniques can help you rediscover your life without neck and back pain.