Osteophyte is the medical term for a bone spur, which is an outgrowth of bone that the body usually creates as a response to bone-on-bone friction. Factors like aging, arthritis, disc degeneration, traumatic injury, poor posture and overuse can all contribute to the development of an osteophyte.

Osteophytes can occur throughout the body, especially around joints. While they do not necessarily cause problems on their own, bone spurs can cause intense pain and debilitating side effects if one compresses a nerve. The spine is one area that is especially prone to developing bone spurs. This is because the spine supports the weight of the upper body while remaining flexible enough for movement, which over time causes the joints and discs to wear out. This wear can lead to friction between the vertebrae and the development of osteophytes

Symptoms of a spinal osteophyte

Nerve compression related to spinal bone spurs — which are actually smooth formations despite the name — can cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe neck and/or back pain
  • Restricted movement
  • Radiating arm and leg pain
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Tingling and numbness

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, spinal bone spurs could be the potential cause. To diagnose and treat an osteophyte in the spine, doctors will typically perform a physical examination and review of medical history to determine the location and causes of pain. In many cases, diagnostic imagery like an MRI or X-ray will be used for a clearer look at the cause of symptoms.

Spinal osteophyte treatment

Most doctors recommend an initial course of conservative options for bone spur treatment. Specific therapies include medication, exercise and physical therapy. Surgery can become an option when symptoms do not improve after weeks or months of conservative treatment is attempted. Many patients are anxious about the prospect of surgery because of the highly invasive nature of traditional open spine procedures.

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that is an alternative to the difficulties that can come with traditional open spine procedures. Our procedures treat osteophytes and other spine conditions using a small muscle-sparing incision, often less than 1 inch in length. The result is a quicker recovery time^ and lower risk of infection than traditional procedures.

If you are considering surgery to treat a spine condition related to an osteophyte, please contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.