What causes bone spurs in the neck?

Many patients diagnosed with this condition have questions about what causes bone spurs in the neck. Bone spurs, which are smooth growths of excess bone, can be very painful and make even simple movements, such as tilting your head, very uncomfortable. By having a better understanding of this condition and the underlying causes, you can work more closely with your doctor to develop an effective treatment plan that can bring you lasting relief.

The name bone spur might make you think of a sharp or spiky protrusion, but they are actually smooth growths of excess bone. The problem is that bone spurs most often form in joints, which can interfere with joint mobility and lead to irritation in the surrounding area. Bone spurs do not necessarily hurt by themselves but they can cause localized pain, radiating pain, joint stiffness and many other symptoms if they put pressure on a nearby nerve.

How do bone spurs develop?

Generally speaking, bone spurs can develop in the neck as a result of:

  • Injury. In the aftermath of a traumatic injury or repetitive motion injury, the body may naturally form bone spurs in response to stress, pressure or friction on the bone. Symptoms related to these bone spurs can be deceptive and frustrating because they often develop gradually after the injury has healed, causing longer-term issues.
  • A degenerative spine condition. Bone spurs also often develop in the spine as a result of the natural aging process. As we grow older, the spine naturally begins to deteriorate. In the facet joints that connect the vertebrae and stabilize the spine, the protective cartilage lining begins to wear away. Eventually, this can lead to bone-on-bone friction, which can cause bone spurs to develop and further interfere with joint mobility. If a bone spur in the neck puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord, radiating symptoms in the shoulders, arms and hands may also be experienced.

Treating bone spurs in the neck

There are many different treatment options available for bone spurs in the neck. Typically, a course of conservative techniques is first recommended to relieve pain and maintain range of motion. Specific treatments can include alternating hot and cold compresses, using over-the-counter medication, improving posture and undergoing physical therapy. However if symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment after a period of weeks and months, surgery may be recommended. At Laser Spine Institute, we provide minimally invasive spine surgery that can address the symptoms of a bone spur in the neck while being a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures. Contact us today to learn more.

We are pleased to offer a free MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.