Feelings of pain, tingling, throbbing, or stiffness at the site of one or more spinal facet joints may prompt you to ask the question, what should I do if I think I have bone spurs? First, let’s clarify the definition of bone spurs, or osteophytes. These are bony protuberances in facet joints or on vertebrae that form when joint cartilage or intervertebral discs begin to deteriorate. Bone spurs will present symptoms if they grind against other bones or if they come into contact with nearby spinal nerves. Common causes are degenerative disc disease, facet disease, aging, genetics, injury, and poor posture.
Diagnostic Tests for Bone Spurs
If you visit your primary care physician because you feel that you might be suffering from spinal bone spurs, he or she will likely conduct a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis:
- Review of symptoms – The location, frequency, severity, and nature of your discomfort are noted by the doctor.
- Physical examination – The doctor palpates the spine and looks for areas of inflammation, tenderness, or deformity.
- Radiograph – An X-ray that produces a cross-sectional image used to view the density and composition of bodily tissues.
- MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging is radiation-free and uses magnetic radio frequency fields to construct an image of the body.
- CT scan – Computed tomography uses a series of 2-D X-rays to create a 3-D image.
Conservative treatments like pain medication, physical therapy, or rest will not heal osteophytes, nor will bone spurs resorb on their own like a herniated disc can. However, they may help you to manage your symptoms so that a surgical solution is never needed. If weeks or months of treatment prove ineffective and your doctor suggests that you consider surgery, keep in mind that highly invasive, open spine surgeries to remove bone spurs are not your only option. Laser Spine Institute offers 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.