Living an active lifestyle when you have a spinal bone spur

Being diagnosed with a bone spur in the spine that is causing painful symptoms does not have to mean the end of an active lifestyle. Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are very common and it’s possible to go for years without knowing if one has developed. The first sign of an excess growth of smooth bone within the spine might be an unusual cracking or popping sound during neck or back movements called crepitus.

More severe symptoms are usually the result of nerve compression caused when the bone spur narrows spinal nerve passageways. This can produce severe localized pain, shooting pain along the length of the nerve and tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the extremities. It is these symptoms that can take you away from the active lifestyle you’re used to, whether that means golfing, jogging, working in the yard or taking your dog for a walk.

Conservative treatment for an active lifestyle

While life with a symptomatic spinal bone spur might become a bit tougher because of the pain and other symptoms, it doesn’t mean you must accept a reduction in the activity you enjoyed before. In fact, for many patients, being overly sedentary can be worse for symptoms than trying to stay active.

Upon diagnosis of a spinal bone spur, most doctors will prescribe a course of conservative, nonsurgical treatment methods. The goal of this initial treatment is to help manage pain while restoring mobility and strengthening muscles that can potentially take pressure off the compressed nerve. Many patients with a spinal bone spur are able to return to normal activity without ever requiring surgery. Here are some commonly prescribed methods:

  • Physical therapy
  • Strengthening exercises, like Pilates
  • Gentle stretches
  • Medication
  • Hot and cold compression therapy
  • Massage
  • Lifestyle changes like posture correction, better nutrition and quitting smoking

Surgery may start to be explored if weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring the relief needed to live an active lifestyle.

Research the Surgical Options

Surgery is seen as a last resort by both doctors and patients because of the downsides that can be involved. Traditional open back surgery involves a large incision, hospitalization, risk of complication and a long recovery time, but there is an alternative. Minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute offers our patients a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication because our surgeons can use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.