Bone spur symptoms and treatment

A spinal bone spur is a smooth bony growth that develops over top of a normal bone in the spine, generally as a response to friction in the spine’s joints. When the two ends of a joint come into repeated contact with one another, the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down over time (a condition called osteoarthritis). The body often reacts by producing bony deposits to help the joints endure the friction. These deposits are what physicians refer to as bone spurs (also called osteophytes). The condition is often the result of the natural deterioration that occurs with aging, and is therefore common among middle-aged and older patients.

Spinal bone spur symptoms

The presence of spinal bone spurs alone usually does not cause any symptoms in patients. Instead, symptoms develop when spinal bone spurs press on surrounding nerves, such as the nerve roots or the spinal cord. The nerve compression can cause a number of symptoms, such as:

  • Severe neck or back pain at the site of nerve compression
  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Radiating pain throughout the extremities
  • Restricted movement

Spinal bone spur treatment

Treatment for spinal bone spurs usually begins with the use of conservative (nonsurgical) methods to minimize a patient’s symptoms. Common conservative spinal bone spur treatment methods may include one or more of the following:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Stretching
  • Low impact exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Opioid pain medication in cases of severe pain
  • Alternative treatments such as chiropractic care or massage therapy

If conservative treatment is ineffective in relieving a patient’s pain after several weeks or months, the patient’s physician may recommend surgery. As an alternative to open spine surgery, the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to treat spinal bone spurs and other degenerative spine conditions. Contact Laser Spine Institute to receive an MRI review* at no cost to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.