Types of spinal bone spurs and the types of pain they can cause

Bone Spurs

There are three main types of spinal bone spurs — those that develop in the cervical (upper) region of the spine, those in the thoracic (middle) spine, and those in the lumbar (lower) spine. Bone spurs can develop on virtually any bone in the body over the course of a lifetime, some of which may never cause any issues and will forever remain unnoticed. However, when bone spurs begin to impede vertebral movement or pinch spinal nerves, the result can be a host of unpleasant conditions that make life difficult.

What Are Bone Spurs?

“Bone spurs” — also known as “osteophytes” — are protruding growths that commonly occur as a natural part of the aging process. They develop primarily in and around your joints, the result of a lifetime of movement and the body’s natural attempt to stabilize these joints as they weaken with age.

Your spine is a stacked collection of small bones, known as “vertebrae,” and between every place that two vertebrae meet is a set of joints. So, considering the sheer number of joint surfaces in the spine, the opportunity for spinal bone spurs to develop is substantial.

After years of supporting your weight, your spine and its joints can weaken under the stress. Your body will naturally seek to stabilize your spine by adding bone mass near the joints, and normally these bone masses, or “spurs,” will forever remain undetected. But, bone spurs can sometimes intrude into the spaces required for your vertebrae to flex and shift as you move, or into spaces your spinal cord and nerve roots occupy. Depending on where a bone spur occurs along the spine, it can cause a wide array of issues and lead to substantial discomfort.

Bone Spur Discomfort

On the whole, only about 40 percent of people who develop bone spurs ever experience any of the related symptoms. In the cervical (neck) region of the spine, bone spurs can cause headaches, or even pain, tingling and weakness in the upper torso. Bone spurs in the lumbar (lower back) region may cause symptoms such as:

  • Backaches
  • Thigh cramps
  • Leg pain

If bone spurs are the cause of your discomfort, there are a variety of treatment options available, and Laser Spine Institute is happy to help. To learn more about the types of spinal bone spurs that can occur, and how our minimally invasive procedures can help alleviate that discomfort, contact Laser Spine Institute today.