Is follow-up necessary after medical treatment for spinal bone spurs?

Treatment for spinal bone spurs (osteophytes) usually focuses on pain management. In general, osteophytes only cause problems if they create pressure on a spinal nerve. If this happens, there are many nonsurgical options that can be very effective for relieving the associated pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling sensations.

Do you need follow-up treatment for bone spurs?

If you received conservative treatment for bone spurs and were able to achieve sufficient symptom relief, you might be wondering if you need any follow-up. This will largely depend on how you feel. As you are likely aware, it can take some time — typically several weeks or months — before you experience the full effects of bone spur treatments such as physical therapy, therapeutic massage and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In large part, these treatments work by reducing inflammation, which in turn can relieve the pressure on a compressed spinal nerve. But, the underlying cause of the inflammation —the bone spur — will remain. Therefore, while potentially effective, the effects of nonsurgical treatment will not necessarily be permanent.

As a general rule of thumb, you should follow up with your physician if you experience pain flare-ups following your treatment for bone spurs. He or she may suggest that you rest briefly and try alternating applications of heat and cold to the painful area of your spine. For severe symptoms, your physician may prescribe pain relievers, muscle relaxants or epidural steroid injections. Again, the relief you achieve with these treatments will be temporary, but repeating them may reduce your pain for a longer period of time and also help you avoid surgery.

Surgical bone spur treatment

If conservative treatment ultimately proves to be insufficient, you may want to explore your surgical treatment options, such as a laminectomy procedure to physically remove the problematic bone spurs. Surgical treatment can permanently remove osteophytes and alleviate the nerve compression that is causing your pain.

If you’d like to learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^