Bone spur diagnosis and treatment

If you’ve received a spinal bone spur diagnosis, there are several treatment options that can help you alleviate the different symptoms that bone spurs in the neck or back can produce. Spinal bone spurs often form when the cartilage that covers the joints of the spine (called facet joints) wears down over time (called osteoarthritis). Without cartilage, the facet joints no longer experience the smooth range of motion they once did. As the worn facet joints move, friction builds, and in an attempt to strengthen the area that is enduring the friction, the body creates a buildup of calcium deposits called bone spurs. The mere presence of a bone spur may not be the cause of a patient’s pain and other symptoms. Instead, the osteoarthritis and nerve compression caused by bone spurs are the main issues that cause symptoms like pain, stiffness, numbness and muscle weakness.

Diagnosing a spinal bone spur

A spinal bone spur diagnosis won’t always result in the need for treatment. Though the term “spur” can sound alarming, bone spurs are actually smooth growths and often don’t produce symptoms. If your physician suspects a bone spur may be the source of the pain or other symptoms you are experiencing, he or she will start by reviewing your medical history to determine the potential causes. A physical examination will likely be conducted to locate the exact region of your spine that is being affected, and an X-ray, CT scan or MRI can be used to verify that your pain is being caused by a bone spur that is affecting the spinal cord or a nerve root in the spine.

Spinal bone spur treatment options

There are several conservative (nonsurgical) treatment options for a spinal bone spur that could help you manage the pain by reducing the pressure around the affected area. These include the use of pain and anti-inflammatory medications, stretching exercises, rest and lifestyle changes that could help you lose excess weight and strengthen the muscles supporting the spine.

If you don’t receive the results you want from these treatments, you may want to consider surgical options. At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive procedures lead to a shorter recovery time ^ than traditional open spine surgery. To find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures, contact us today.