Disc osteophyte treatments

Disc osteophytes develop commonly as a result of the natural deterioration of the spine as we age. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available if you develop an osteophyte near a damaged disc in the spine.

How osteophytes form

There are two main components in the spine that support and cushion the vertebrae: discs and facet joints. The discs are round cushions that act as “shock absorbers” for the spine, cushioning the vertebrae and holding them in proper space and alignment so they do not collide with each other. Additionally, the facet joints join the vertebrae and allow them to hinge and bend, giving movement to the spine. These facet joints are coated with cartilage to prevent the vertebrae from any bone-to-bone contact.

As the discs and joints deteriorate over time, the vertebrae can begin to rub against each other, stimulating bone spur, or osteophyte, growth. When these osteophytes grow within the disc spaces of the spine, they can cause pain, irritation, inflammation and nerve root compression.

A bone spur that interferes with a spinal disc is called a disc osteophyte.

Treatment for disc osteophytes

Often, a disc osteophyte will not require treatment. Osteophytes are not painful or dangerous in and of themselves; symptoms only occur when an osteophyte compresses a local nerve near the spine.

However, if the bone spur does pinch a nerve, your physician can help you find conservative, nonsurgical treatments that aim to reduce the following symptoms of osteophyte pain:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected area

Such conservative treatment — which may include pain medication, physical therapy and other noninvasive methods — will not diminish the osteophyte, but can reduce the pain and symptoms you are experiencing.

The only true way to remove an osteophyte is surgically. Take a moment to research the types of spine surgery available to you; you may find that you would rather choose a safer and effective surgery than the traditional open back surgery offered at hospitals. The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute is often the clinically appropriate first choice over traditional open spine surgery, offering patients a shorter recovery time^ and lower rate of infection and complication.

At Laser Spine Institute, our orthopedic surgeons are skilled at removing disc osteophytes using minimally invasive spine surgery that allows you to go home within a few hours of the procedure. Our decompression surgery helps many patients find relief by removing a small portion of the osteophyte causing your pain. However, if the disc in the spine is severely damaged and may cause instability and the development of more osteophytes, a stabilization surgery may be used to insert an artificial disc into the spine to stabilize it.

If you are experiencing pain and other symptoms associated with a disc osteophyte, contact us today. We can review your MRI or CT scan and determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.