Bone Spur Diagnosis | Osteoarthritis

In order to receive a bone spur diagnosis, a patient always needs to visit her or his family physician or a spine specialist. Correctly diagnosing any degenerative spine condition, including the formation of osteophytes within the vertebral joints, is absolutely essential in order to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms and to identify the treatments that afford the best chance of pain relief.


The vertebral joints in the spinal column, like all weight-bearing joints in the body, are prone to become arthritic as an individual grows older. Over the years, regular wear and tear will take its toll, causing the cartilage that coats the joints to slowly deteriorate until bone-on-bone contact eventually occurs. In addition to causing stiffness, soreness and a marked reduction in range of motion, this friction also can lead to the development of bone spurs in or around the affected joint.

The mere presence of a bone spur in and of itself is not problematic. These smooth growths of bone are formed in an attempt to stabilize an arthritic joint and offset a loss of bone density. However, when the bone spur comes into contact with a nerve root, spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself, a number of painful symptoms may be experienced, leading to the need to visit a physician or spine specialist.

Diagnosing arthritis and bone spurs

When a patient visits her or his physician and complains of chronic neck or back pain, muscle weakness, diminished reflexes, limited range of motion and other symptoms that are frequently associated with a bone spur, a number of steps likely will be taken. First, the physician will review the patient’s medical history and ask specific questions about the cause of her or his condition, specific symptoms, overall health and any treatments that may have already been attempted. Once the physician has a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s pain, she or he will conduct a physical examination in order to confirm the bone spur diagnosis and locate the precise region of the spine that is affected. Finally, it is normally recommended that the patient receive an X-ray, MRI or CT scan to confirm the presence of the bone spur and ensure an underlying condition isn’t to blame for the patient’s pain.

Treatment options

Typically, once a bone spur diagnosis has been made, a physician will recommend a series of non-invasive treatments that are intended to remove strain from the neck or back and manage the pain. The use of anti-inflammatories, regular exercise, stretching techniques and healthy diet may all be recommended.

In the event that conservative treatments fail to provide you with the pain relief you require, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our innovative, outpatient procedures may be able to help you find relief from neck or back pain.