Three places a bone spur can occur in the spine

A bone spur is a common condition in which the body creates small deposits of calcium on the surface of a bone. This usually occurs as a result of friction, and while it can go unnoticed, it can also cause a number of painful symptoms if it presses on the spinal cord or a nerve root.

Where do bone spurs develop?

Bone spurs can develop anywhere, although they are particularly common in the feet and spine. With regard to spinal bone spurs, they can develop:

  1. In the top of the spine near the neck (cervical spine)
  2. In the middle of the back (thoracic spine)
  3. In the lower back (lumbar spine)

Bone spur symptoms and treatments

Depending on where in the spine a bone spur develops, it can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain and muscle weakness that travel along the path of an affected nerve. Bone spurs that develop in the cervical spine often affect the shoulders and arms, while those that develop in the lumbar spine can cause pain in the lower extremities.

Many people are able to manage their bone spur symptoms with a combination of conservative (nonsurgical) therapies, including anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Corticosteroid injections, heat/cold therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises and prescription pain medications are also potential options. Many individuals are able to manage their symptoms — regardless of where in the spine the bone spurs occur — with a combination of these treatment options.

Surgical treatment

While bone spur treatment does not always involve surgery, there are some instances in which nonsurgical treatments do not provide the necessary level of symptom control. Conservative therapies are designed to alleviate symptoms, but do not actually remove the bone spur from the spine. However, surgery can be performed to accomplish this. Alternatively, surgery can be performed to create additional space in the spinal canal to accommodate the extra bone material. There are also surgical options to desensitize a compressed nerve, so as to prevent the transmission of pain signals.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive bone spur surgery that offers a number of potential advantages over traditional surgery, including lower complication rates and no lengthy recovery.^ To find out if you are a candidate, contact us today.