Disc degeneration with osteophytes

The spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae tend to wear down over time, mostly due to factors like injury and aging. As this occurs, the discs can flatten and the space between the vertebrae decreases, exposing the bones to increased stress. To compensate for this additional load, bony growths form along the edges of the vertebrae above or below the disc. These growths are called osteophytes, or bone spurs. When their development is related to disc degeneration, doctors will often label the condition disc osteophyte complex.

Disc degeneration and osteophytes do not always result in symptoms, but can become painful and disruptive to your life if they put pressure on nerves in the spine. Neck or back pain related to this condition can seriously affect your life, making it difficult to do even the simplest tasks like go to the store or work in the yard. Learning more about the causes and treatment options for conditions affecting the spine can improve your chance of getting the care you need by making you a better-informed patient.

Specific causes of disc degeneration with osteophytes

Osteophytes develop near degenerating joint cartilage or along calcifying spinal ligaments, as well as along the edges of vertebral bone under increased stress. This can be caused by several underlying factors including:

  • Natural aging
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Obesity
  • Improper posture
  • Overexertion
  • Osteoarthritis

Treatment for disc osteophytes

Bone spurs within the spine do present a potential problem for nerve roots and the spinal cord. If they become too large or develop in the wrong spot, nerve compression can result, accompanied by symptoms that include:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

These symptoms often respond well to conservative treatment like pain medication, physical therapy and massage. When chronic pain persists despite weeks of conservative treatment, surgery might become an option. If you are considering surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open back procedures. These procedures offer patients a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication because our surgeons are able to access the spine with a muscle-sparing, less than 1-inch incision.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a potential candidate for one of our procedures.