Uncovertebral joint osteophytes
Uncovertebral joint osteophytes, or bone spurs, are small bone growths that develop in the cervical spine (neck) due to the natural weakening of the spine over time. Specifically, these osteophytes develop in the uncovertebral joints — the joints that connect the C3 to C7 vertebrae in the neck.
As these osteophytes develop, they risk pressing against one of the nerves near the cervical spine, which could result in the following symptoms:
- Pain in the head, neck, shoulder, arm and hand
- Muscle weakness or tingling
- Slower reflexes in the affected arm or hand
- Pins-and-needles sensation
Being able to identify these symptoms as a degenerative spine condition, such as uncovertebral joint osteophytes, can help you identify when you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your condition and the best treatment options for pain relief.
Causes and consequences of uncovertebral joint osteophytes
Over time, the components of the spine begin to wear down and deteriorate. While this can be caused by some unhealthy lifestyles, such as excess weight gain and alcohol abuse, it is most commonly caused by the natural aging of the spine and cannot be avoided.
As the spine weakens, the joints that allow the vertebrae to move and bend slowly wear down, losing the layer of cartilage that protects the joints and vertebrae from bone-on-bone contact. When the layer of cartilage on the joint has diminished, the constant friction of the vertebrae on other bones can become detrimental to the spine’s stability. The body responds to this weakness by growing bony protrusions near the joints called osteophytes or bone spurs.
An uncovertebral joint osteophyte is a bone spur in the neck that has formed near one of the uncovertebral joints. While this condition does not automatically cause symptoms, it can result in pain and discomfort if the bone spur grows and pinches a nearby nerve.
Treatment for uncovertebral joint osteophytes
Conservative treatments, such as pain medication, chiropractic care and physical therapy, can manage many cases of nerve compression due to bone spurs. Your doctor can help you find the best form of nonsurgical treatment based on your condition and medical history.
If chronic pain persists after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, a doctor may recommend surgery as an option. Before agreeing to highly invasive traditional open neck surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute and learn about our safer and effective alternatives to relieve bone spur pain.^
Our minimally invasive spine surgery can help reduce the pain caused by uncovertebral joint osteophytes. For many patients, our minimally invasive decompression surgery will relieve pressure on the compressed nerve. However, if the damage in the spine is more severe than just the bone spur itself, a stabilization surgery may be required to help treat the spine.
Patients who choose minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute can experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication compared to traditional open neck surgery.^ This is because our procedures are minimally invasive, using a small incision that does not unnecessarily disrupt the muscles or ligaments surrounding the spine.
To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute today and request a free MRI review.* We can help you recapture your quality of life from uncovertebral joint osteophytes.