Osteophytes in the cervical region of the spine

Osteophytes in the cervical region of the spine are common in patients who have been diagnosed with degenerative diseases like facet disease, osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. Osteophytes, also known as bone spurs, are bony projections that your body produces to stabilize bones that are experiencing friction. If osteophytes put pressure on spinal nerve roots in the cervical (upper) spine, it can cause pain, numbness and tingling to radiate to the shoulders, arms and hands.

If you or someone you know is dealing with pain caused by cervical osteophytes, learning about the causes and treatments can help with returning to normal activity and a better quality of life.

Where in the spine do osteophytes develop?

Regardless of whether you develop osteophytes in the cervical region of the spine, the thoracic (middle) or the lumbar (lower) region, the same sites are prone to bone spurs, including:

  • Facet joints. These joints connect adjacent vertebrae and facet disease or osteoarthritis can often cause bone spurs to develop in the joint space. Any spinal nerves connected to this joint can become painfully compressed.
  • Lamina. The lamina forms part of the vertebral arch. Since the spinal column houses the spinal cord, the laminae form a roof over the spinal cord. Bone spurs commonly form here, causing an overall narrowing of the spinal canal, a condition known as spinal stenosis.
  • Edges of vertebrae. Bone spurs sometimes form along the edges of vertebrae, especially if spinal discs start to flatten and cause adjacent vertebrae to make contact. Osteophytes in this location can press on the spinal discs, thereby contributing to the risk of herniated disc or bulging disc, or they can compress on surrounding spinal nerves.

Treating osteophytes in the cervical region

The neck is prone to issues like osteophytes because it supports the weight of the head while being flexible enough for movement. Cervical osteophytes can cause painful symptoms, but many patients can successfully manage their discomfort and mobility problems with a course of doctor-prescribed conservative treatment. Options include neck massage, physical therapy, pain medication or periodic anti-inflammatory injections. If after weeks or months of these treatments you still are experiencing neck pain, your physician could suggest surgery for osteophytes.

Alternative treatments for osteophytes

Traditional surgeries involve risk of infection, lengthy recuperation and hospitalization. If these drawbacks are preventing you from finding lasting pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. Because a small, muscle-sparing incision is used to reach the spine these procedures offer a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open neck surgery.^

For a no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.