Bone spurs risk factors

Bone spurs can develop from a series of risk factors, but the most common cause of these small growths is the natural weakening of the spine.

As the spine ages, small nubs of bone may form near the vertebrae and facet joints — the joints that allow the vertebrae to hinge — in an attempt to help strengthen areas where the spine is weakening. This often happens if a facet joint has developed spinal arthritis (osteoarthritis) and begins to wear down; the small bone spurs, or osteophytes, will form near the joint to help stabilize and support the vertebrae.

While bone spurs usually remain small and unnoticeable, they can sometimes grow large enough to press against a nerve in the spine. When this happens, you may experience a sudden onset of pain and discomfort.

Causes and symptoms of bone spurs

Bone spurs are often formed over years of spinal deterioration, usually caused by repetitive motion and weight gain that wears down the components of the spine. While some of these risks factors cannot be controlled, such as age and genetics, other factors can be changed to improve your overall spine health and reduce your risk of developing bone spurs.
The common causes of bone spur development include:

  • Disc or joint degeneration — Which is the case in degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the spine
  • Genetics — Inherited traits
  • A history of injury — Whiplash, compression fracture
  • Nutrition — Obesity or malnutrition from poor eating habits
  • Poor posture — Slouching while seated or slumped shoulders while standing

As the bone spurs increase in size, they can impact a nearby nerve and cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Pins-and-needles sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling

These symptoms can extend from the spine into the nearby arm or leg, depending on the severity of the nerve compression.

Treating bone spur symptoms

The first step to treating bone spur symptoms is to schedule an appointment with your physician to diagnose your condition and discuss the treatment options available to you. Often, conservative treatment is the first option for pain relief. This type of treatment could include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication
  • Yoga and stretching
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Chiropractic care

These alternative methods could be combined to expedite your pain relief. Your physician should be in charge of monitoring your treatment and pain relief to help maintain your safety.

Because conservative treatments only focus on the symptoms of bone spurs and not treating the condition itself, patients sometimes have to wait several months before any lasting pain relief is felt. If after several months of nonsurgical treatment you have still not reached your pain relief goals, you should research the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery treats bone spurs by removing the bone spur altogether and treating the weakened part of the spine. For many patients, this means a decompression surgery to simply remove the bone spur. However, for a severely damaged disc in the spine, this could mean a stabilization surgery would be used to replace a damaged joint or disc after the bone spur is removed. Our team of spine care specialists will recommend the best surgical option after reviewing your MRI report or CT scan.

If you are suffering from the chronic pain caused by bone spurs, connect with our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute to learn more about how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help you find relief.