Types of spinal bone spurs and how they can affect symptoms

Types of spinal bone spurs can mainly be divided by their location in the spinal column, including those that develop in the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) spinal regions. Bone spurs can develop on virtually any bone in the body over the course of a lifetime, some of which may never cause any symptoms, and go undiagnosed. However, in the spine, these three types of bone spurs can cause symptoms in different areas of the body if one puts pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root.

Bone spurs, or 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. Due to the weight and movement the body supports, bone spurs are particularly common in the spine.

Bone spur symptoms vary by type

As the spinal cord travels from the brain to the rest of the body, it branches off at the different levels of the spinal column. This is why bone spurs in the three main levels of the spinal column can cause different types of symptoms.

For example, in the cervical spine, if a bone spur puts pressure on a spinal nerve, it can result in neck pain and shooting pain, tingling and numbness into the shoulders, arms and hands. Bone spurs in the lumbar region may cause symptoms including:

  • Backaches
  • Leg pain
  • Tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the lower extremities

Although not as common due to the relative stability of this area, thoracic bone spurs can result in middle back pain as well as abdominal and chest pains.

Treatment options for bone spurs

If bone spurs are the cause of your discomfort, there are a variety of treatment options available, with conservative options like physical therapy, massage and medication offering effective relief for many patients. However, if surgery becomes an option after weeks or months of pursuing treatment without finding relief, Laser Spine Institute is happy to help.

To learn how our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures,^ contact our caring team today. We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.