What Causes Bone Spur Growth in the Spine & Can it be Prevented or Treated?

While there are many spinal bone spur causes and risk factors that can increase the chance of developing these bony growths (also known as osteophytes), the direct reason behind them is pressure applied to the bone structures of the body. In response to this pressure, the body may grow bone spurs to stabilize joints. These spurs can cause stiffness, weakness and pain, depending on their location.

Aging and existing health conditions

The normal aging process causes the majority of bone spur growth in the spinal column. Osteophytes occur in response to the natural deterioration of spinal components over time, to stabilize spinal joints as intervertebral discs wear down and ligaments grow looser.

One of the most common bone spur causes is osteoarthritis, a disorder that leads to the deterioration of cartilage lining the facet joints, which are the surfaces between individual vertebrae that allow smooth neck and back movement. Osteoarthritis can also be brought on by degenerative disc disease, which is the advanced deterioration of the intervertebral discs of the spine. Both of these issues are more common among older people and a hereditary history of either of these conditions can increase a patient’s likelihood of developing spinal bone spurs.

Causes of premature degeneration

Genetic predisposition and the natural aging process aside, there are other factors that can contribute the wearing down of joint cartilage and the flattening or collapsing of the intervertebral discs. Extra stress placed on spinal components can accelerate their deterioration, as in the case of obesity, where added body mass weighs down the spine. Smoking can also play a role in bone spur growth because the use of tobacco products can introduce harmful chemicals to the body, some of which inhibit circulation and consequently reduce the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the spine.

Not all bone spur causes are gradual; sometimes they can be caused by more sudden means. Auto accidents, hard impacts during contact sports and other such injuries can cause spinal trauma, contribute to spinal degeneration and, therefore, to bone spur growth.

Possible treatments

No matter which bone spur causes are to blame in a particular case, the pain, numbness and weakness they can cause might warrant treatment. While initial treatments generally include pain medications, rest and physical therapy, surgery is sometimes advised for persistent and severe cases. Although traditional open neck and open back procedures can provide relief, there are also minimally invasive options available at Laser Spine Institute to patients who qualify. Please contact Laser Spine Institute today for your MRI review to determine if you are a candidate for surgery.