How do you remove a spinal bone spur?

Spinal bone spurs do not always cause problems or require treatment. These smooth, bony deposits are produced naturally by the body in response to spinal degeneration. Their purpose is to help fortify weakened vertebrae and joints. But, because bone spurs take up space within the spinal canal, they can potentially compress sensitive spinal nerves. If this occurs, symptoms such as pain, numbness and muscle weakness can result.

If you’ve been diagnosed with symptomatic bone spurs, you might be wondering if they can be removed. In short, the answer is yes. However, surgery is the only way to actually “remove” a bone spur, and removal may not be necessary for symptom relief.

How to find relief without removing a bone spur

Before considering surgery to remove bone spurs, many physicians advise their patients to try to manage their symptoms conservatively. Your physician can recommend an individualized treatment plan for you. For instance, you may find that your discomfort responds well to:

  • Weight loss (if appropriate)
  • Postural improvement
  • Regular walking or swimming
  • Physical therapy, including targeted stretches and low-impact exercises
  • Hot/cold therapy used during painful episodes
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken as needed
  • Prescription-strength pain medications and muscle relaxants (if OTC options do not provide sufficient relief)

If this approach proves to be effective, you can generally expect to see an improvement in your symptoms within four to six weeks. It is important to give your treatment plan enough time to work before moving on to surgery. That’s because nonsurgical treatment can potentially produce results that are comparable to those that can be achieved with the surgical removal of bone spurs. The bottom line is that surgery is a big step, and you may not need it.

Removing bone spurs with surgery

If you ultimately decide to explore surgery to address your symptoms at their source — by removing your bone spurs — contact Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to highly invasive open neck or back surgery.^ We can tell you about our outpatient procedures and provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate.