Understanding what causes bone spurs will help you work with your doctor to develop an effective treatment plan. Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are bony protuberances that your body produces in an attempt to reinforce a weakened spine. Bone spurs can develop inside facet joints or along the edges of vertebral endplates. However, rather than helping to strengthen the spine, bone spurs can actually cause unwanted friction and neural compression, which can lead to symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the spine or throughout the extremities.
The Anatomy of Facet Disease
You may be wondering what triggers the development of bone spurs. Facet disease, a form of osteoarthritis that affects the spine, is the gradual breakdown of the cartilage surrounding the facet joints. Without cartilage for padding and shock absorption, joint movements can cause bone to grind against bone, which triggers your body to create osteophytes. Causes of facet disease include:
- Aging – Deterioration of facet joint cartilage accelerates after the age of 50.
- Injury – Penetrating trauma can cause infection or abscesses in the joint space.
- Obesity – The joints of overweight individuals are under far more stress than those of someone with a healthy weight.
- Infection – Viral and bacterial infections have been known to trigger facet disease.
- Gender – Older women who have already undergone menopause are more at risk.
- Genetics – A family history of arthritis or other abnormal joint conditions increases your risk.
After you understand what causes bone spurs and your doctor has confirmed a diagnosis, he or she will likely suggest that you try managing your symptoms non-surgically with a course of conservative treatment. This might include intermittent rest, behavior modification, physical therapy, hot-cold compresses, yoga, or the use of pain medication, among others. If weeks or months of these methods prove ineffective and you’re searching for an alternative to highly invasive, open spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. We offer a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that utilize state-of-the-art endoscopic technology. To find out if you could be a candidate, and for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, contact Laser Spine Institute today.