Can bone spurs in the neck be removed with surgery?

Bone spur surgery may be recommended for you if you’re experiencing severe discomfort caused by an osteophyte that has developed in your neck. But, you should know that not all bone spurs cause pain or require treatment. These protective bony deposits form naturally on weakened bones and, in general, only cause problems if they crowd or pressure sensitive nerves.

Spinal nerve compression can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including localized pain, muscle weakness and tingling sensations that radiate along the pathway of an affected nerve. If any of this sounds familiar, you may have several avenues to relief, many of which do not involve surgery.

Symptom relief may be possible without surgery

While surgery is the only way to actually “remove” a bone spur, removal is not always necessary to achieve symptom relief. In fact, many physicians advise their patients to begin with a conservative approach to symptom management. For instance, many people find that their discomfort responds well to:

  • Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, if applicable
  • Ergonomic adjustments, such as raising or lowering the height of a computer monitor or keyboard
  • Periodic stretching
  • Walking, swimming and other low-impact forms of exercise
  • Postural improvement
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Prescription-strength pain medications and muscle relaxants
  • Topical analgesics

It is important to give treatments like these sufficient time to work — in general, several weeks or months is recommended — before giving up on them in favor of bone spur surgery. The surgical removal of a bone spur is a big step, and while it can be effective for symptom relief, it may not be required.

Surgical bone spur treatment

If you ultimately find that you don’t benefit enough from nonsurgical therapies, you might consider bone spur surgery to address your symptoms at their source. To accomplish this, the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to highly invasive open neck surgery.^ We encourage you to contact us for more information. We can tell you about our outpatient procedures and help determine if you are a candidate through a no-cost MRI review.*