What causes bone spurs in the neck?

One of the most common questions that spine specialists hear is, “What causes bone spurs in the neck?” Bone spurs, which are smooth growths of excess bone, can be extremely painful and make even simple movements, such as tilting your head, very uncomfortable. So, where do bone spurs come from and how can their symptoms be effectively managed?

They’re not what you think they are

The name “bone spur” might conjure an image of a sharp, spiky protrusion, but in reality, these “spurs” are little more than small, 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 hurt by themselves, but when they rub against something they shouldn’t, they can cause localized pain, radiating pain, joint stiffness and many other symptoms.

Where do they come from?

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

  • Injury — In the aftermath of a traumatic, sports-related or overuse injury, the body may naturally form bone spurs in response to stress, pressure or friction on the bone. This can be frustrating because in many cases, the bone spurs develop gradually long after the injury has healed, causing unexpected and lasting consequences.
  • A degenerative spine condition — Bone spurs also often develop in the spine as a result of nothing more than 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.

Treating bone spurs

There are many different treatment options available for bone spurs in the neck. Typically, a regimen of conservative techniques is first recommended to alleviate pain and maintain range of motion. If, however, symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be warranted. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer several minimally invasive spine procedures that can address the symptoms of a bone spur in the neck. Contact us today to learn more.