Cervical osteophytes, also known as cervical bone spurs, appear in the spinal vertebrae of the neck. An osteophyte is a bony protuberance that the body sometimes produces in response to a weakened spine. However, rather than helping the spine, the bone spurs can actually create more problems by infringing on the foramina, which are the open spaces on either side of the vertebrae through which spinal nerves pass.
Cervical osteophytes and osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints. In the spine, osteoarthritis specifically affects the facet joints, which are the hinges that connect adjacent vertebrae and facilitate the spine’s mobility. These joints are covered by cartilage and, with time, the cartilage begins to wear away, causing the vertebrae to rub together. The friction in and of itself can be painful, but when bone spurs form at the site of the arthritic joints, symptoms can be compounded.
Symptoms of cervical osteophytes resulting from osteoarthritis
Neural compression due to cervical osteophytes can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain that stays localized in the neck
- Pain that begins in the neck and travels through the shoulders, arms and hands
- Tingling in the neck and arms
- Throbbing, aching or burning pain
- Crepitus, or the audible sound of bone grinding against bone
- Spontaneous joint lockage
Treatment for osteoarthritis
Although osteophytes in the spine will not heal themselves, most patients find that non-surgical, conservative treatments allow them to manage their symptoms effectively. Physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medication, mild stretching and massage are good methods with which to begin. Additionally, patients can alter their treatment plans to include physician-recommended prescription medication or anti-inflammatory steroid injections. If weeks or months of these treatments do not offer sufficient pain relief, surgery for osteophytes could become an option.
How can Laser Spine Institute help?
Many traditional surgeries aimed at combating osteoarthritis or lumbar, thoracic or cervical osteophytes are open spine operations. These surgeries are massively invasive and involve hospitalization, muscle trauma and the possibility of nerve damage. However, there are effective alternatives — Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive procedures that target the source of your neck or back pain. Our surgical techniques allow for an outpatient procedure, which means you can find relief from neck or back pain as quickly as possible and experience a faster recovery than with traditional open spine surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for your MRI review to determine if you are a candidate for surgery.