What is a bone spur and how is it treated?

Being told that you have bone spurs in your spine can be shocking news. Even though this is a very common condition, the diagnosis can be a little frightening. Take a moment to research what this condition really means and what treatment options are available to you to help reduce your pain.

First, it’s important to realize that bone spurs are a common occurrence, especially among the middle-aged. As we get older, growths of excess bone can develop in certain areas of the body, but in many cases go unnoticed because they don’t produce any symptoms.

However, when bone spurs develop in the spine, this excess bone growth can produce painful side effects because the bones are so close to the nerves of the spine. If a bone spur presses on a neighboring nerve root, noticeable symptoms can develop.

Causes of spinal bone spurs

You may want to know what caused your spinal bone spur growth in the first place. In many cases, the root cause of a spinal bone spur is simply getting older. As the body ages, it may produce bone spurs to help stabilize the joints in the spine that have weakened from normal wear and tear. The weakening of spinal joints can occur if joint cartilage begins to wear away, causing the body to compensate with bone spur growth — a condition called osteoarthritis. This condition may also occur in the spine along with the gradual weakening of the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae.

Aside from the natural aging process, traumatic injuries can also result in the growth of bone spurs — the body’s natural response to joint instability. Events like car accidents or high-impact sports put stress on the spine, which can lead to bone spurs. When spinal bone spurs press against a nerve, nerve root or the spinal cord, it can cause numbness or weakness along with chronic neck or back pain.

Treating spinal bone spurs

If you have been diagnosed with a bone spur that is also compressing a nerve, your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatment as the first line of defense. This type of treatment, also known as conservative care, can include hot and cold therapies, pain management injections and chiropractic care, among other options. Physicians often recommend physical therapy and yoga to increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles around the affected area as well.

If you haven’t achieved your pain relief goals through conservative care, bone spur surgery could provide you with lasting relief from chronic neck or back pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to relieve the pain caused by spinal bone spurs. Depending on your diagnosis, our surgeons may be able to perform a minimally invasive decompression surgery using one of the following procedures:

  • A laminotomy, which can create additional space in the spinal canal when a bone spur has developed on the surface of a normal bony structure and is crowding the canal
  • A discectomy, which can remove a portion of herniated or bulging disc material to release the pressure on a nerve or nerve root
  • A foraminotomy, which can be used to remove bone spurs and other tissues that are causing nerve compression inside the space between two vertebrae
  • A facet thermal ablation, which can be used to deaden a nerve ending inside an arthritic spinal joint

If your spine condition is more severe, our minimally invasive stabilization techniques can provide relief and immediate stability. For more information about your bone spur or the minimally invasive outpatient procedures we offer, contact Laser Spine Institute to speak with a member of our Care Team today.