More commonly known as bone spurs, osteophytic spurs are bony growths that develop near the joints of the spine due to age and the weakening of certain spinal components.
Because osteophytic spurs are commonly caused by the natural deterioration of the spine, this condition can be found most often in people over the age of 50. While age cannot be controlled, understanding the other more controllable risk factors and causes of osteophytic spurs may help you to prevent the development of this spine condition and improve the overall health of your spine.
If you have any questions as you research the causes and treatments of osteophytic spurs, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute. We are here to help you find the information you need about your condition so you can make a confident decision about your spine care needs.
Causes of osteophytic spurs
Osteophytic spurs can result from a number of causes. They often develop in spinal joints, such as the facet joints that connect the vertebrae and allow them to move. In such cases, the breakdown of the cartilage that covers the facet joints allows the vertebrae to collide with each other with every movement. Over time, this bone-on-bone contact can lead to the development of bone spurs near the joint.
Other spine conditions that can lead to the formation of osteophytic spurs include:
- Degenerative joint disease
- Degenerative disc disease
- Osteoarthritis (arthritis of the spine)
These conditions can cause small nubs (bone spurs) to grow on the spine. While these are not painful on their own, the osteophytic spurs may contact a nearby nerve, resulting in sometimes severe pain and symptoms.
Symptoms and treatment for osteophytic spurs
Generally speaking, osteophytic spurs are not painful or harmful. It is very common, in fact, for some people to develop bone spurs that never present symptoms or cause any problems whatsoever. It is when the spurs compress a nerve, irritate the spinal cord or affect muscles or other soft tissues that symptoms such as the following result:
- Localized pain
- Pain that radiates into the extremities
- Decreased range of motion
- A sensation that something is stopping or blocking an affected joint
- Decreased blood flow
If osteophytic spurs are causing you pain and other symptoms, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help.
We offer several types of minimally invasive spine surgery, including minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgery that can remove the bone spur from pinching the nerve and then rebuild the damaged joint or disc in the spine using an artificial disc and/or bone grafts. While stabilization procedures are commonly effective in relieving pain and bringing stability to the spine, many patients are able to find relief through our decompression surgeries. Because our minimally invasive spine surgery only requires a small incision and no muscle disruption, our patients can return to their daily activities with lower risk of complication than patients who choose traditional open back surgery.
Take the next step toward pain relief by contacting our Laser Spine Institute team and requesting a review of your MRI or CT scan.