Although you may have heard of bone spurs before, you may be unclear about what they are and what causes them. Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are abnormal growths of bone that can develop inside facet joints or along the endplates of vertebrae. Your body produces these growths in response to the friction of bone rubbing against bone once joint cartilage has worn away.
Degeneration of facet joint cartilage could be the result of facet disease (which is a form of spinal osteoarthritis), overexertion, poor posture, aging, degenerative disc disease, or traumatic injury. While many cases of bone spurs remain completely asymptomatic, other patients experience discomfort in the form of:
- Crepitus – the painful sensation of bone grinding against bone
- Stiffness – joint stiffness or spontaneous joint lockage
- Stationary pain – a throbbing or cramp-like feeling in the joint space
- Traveling pain – pain that travels from the joint to the extremities due to neural compression
- Tingling or numbness – prolonged neural compression can lead to loss of sensation
Conservative, non-operative treatments will not remove or heal osteophytes. However, these therapies can help many people to effectively manage their pain. Your physician may suggest hot-cold compresses, pain medication, stretching, behavior modification, or selective nerve block injections. If weeks or months of these treatments do not offer you lasting pain relief, your physician may suggest you consider more advanced methods of pain relief. If this is the case, contact Laser Spine Institute. We offer a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient nerve decompression procedures that utilize state-of-the-art endoscopic technology. To find out if you could be a candidate for a bone spur removal procedure, or for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, contact Laser Spine Institute today.