A practical guide to bone spur prevention

Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, develop in the spine as a natural stabilizing response to bone-on-bone friction, often caused by age-related conditions like spinal arthritis or degenerative disc disease.

While you can’t control the aging of your spine, there are still some things you can do to prevent unnecessary wear and tear that can contribute to the development of bone spurs. Understanding what causes these growths to form around the facet joints of the spine can help you make lifestyle changes to decrease your risk of developing bone spurs and other degenerative spine conditions.

Steps for bone spur prevention

As you age, the moving parts of the spine gradually wear down due to natural loss of water content combined with the stress of weight and everyday movements. These factors can cause the cartilage on the facet joints — the joints that link the vertebrae — to slowly disappear as the vertebrae constantly twist and turn, rubbing against the cartilage and wearing it down. Once the cartilage wears down, the vertebrae no longer have cushion and the bone-on-bone contact could form bone spurs. The same is true when a disc in the spine begins to lose height, potentially causing increased contact between the vertebrae.

There are certain prevention methods you can take to help you avoid or at least postpone the development of bone spurs and increase your overall spine health. Bone spur prevention steps include:

  • Ensuring your diet is rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium to ensure strong, healthy bones
  • Exercising regularly to strengthen your core muscles so they can help support the body’s weight
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight through diet and exercise
  • Avoiding repetitive movement, using proper lifting technique and being careful when playing impact sports

Bone spur treatments

Bone spur prevention is not always guaranteed since there are so many factors outside of your control, such as the aging process and genetics. However if this condition does develop and causes painful symptoms, there are several treatment options available to help you find relief.

Doctors typically recommend a course of nonsurgical treatment, such as physical therapy and pain medication, to help treat the symptoms of a bone spur. It is also important to continue following the lifestyle recommendations listed above to promote the ongoing health of the spine. Spine surgery may become an option if symptoms are still debilitating and taking you away from your everyday activities after a period of weeks or months.

If you are considering spine surgery, contact the team at Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering patients a reduced risk of complication and no lengthy recovery.^

Connect with our team to learn more and to request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.