How do you know if you have bone spurs in your spine?

The term “bone spur” certainly sounds like a painful condition, but actually it’s quite common for people to have a bone spur in their neck or back and not feel any discomfort. Bone spurs are smooth projections of bony tissue — not at all sharp, as the name implies — that can form on bones in the spine, usually as the result of friction in the spinal joints. They’re also known as osteophytes, and they’re commonly found in patients over age 55 who are developing osteoarthritis or other age-related degenerative spine conditions. When an osteophyte causes pain in the neck or back, it’s usually because the bony projection is pressing on the spinal cord or one of the nerve roots in the spinal canal.

How to tell if you have a bone spur in your neck or back

You will need to consult with a physician to find out if you have a bone spur in your spine. Typically, the doctor will use diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to determine if you have this condition. Before ordering these tests, however, the doctor is likely to conduct a physical exam and ask you to describe your symptoms. Common symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the neck or back where the bone spur is located
  • Numbness, tingling, pain and/or muscle weakness in the arms or legs
  • Stiffness and difficulty moving

What to do if you’re diagnosed with a painful spinal bone spur

Fortunately, many people can obtain relief from their spinal bone spur symptoms by pursuing a conservative treatment plan. Once you’ve been diagnosed with a painful bone spur in your neck or back, your doctor will likely suggest that you try anti-inflammatory medications, hot and cold compresses, gentle stretching exercises and other nonsurgical methods to treat your discomfort.

If your symptoms don’t improve after several weeks or months of pursuing conservative treatments and they’re interfering with your ability to enjoy life, you may wish to consider minimally invasive outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute as a treatment option. Our minimally invasive procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures, offering shorter recovery periods and less scarring.^

If you’ve been diagnosed with a spinal bone spur, we’ll be happy to provide you with a free MRI review* that can help determine if you’re a candidate for treatment at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us today for more information.