Bone spurs in the neck — overview and treatment options

Bone spurs in the neck are smooth growths of excess bone that can develop after a traumatic injury or as a result of osteoarthritis in the cervical (upper) region of the spine. These growths, which are also known as osteophytes, are not necessarily painful, but symptoms from nerve compression can result if they narrow nerve pathways in the spine. These symptoms can be very debilitating, affecting the ability to do basic activities like driving, cooking or working in the yard, but it is possible to find relief.

Treatment of cervical bone spurs is usually first attempted with a course of conservative approaches, although the surgical removal of the problematic bone spur is occasionally considered if symptoms do not improve, or become worse. Learning more about the causes and the full range of treatment options can help as you search for a treatment plan that is best for your individual needs.

Bone spurs and facet disease

Facet disease — a term for spinal arthritis — is a common condition that often develops in the neck as a result of the natural aging process. The weight of the head combined with the flexibility of the cervical spine puts pressure on the individual parts, especially the joints and discs that allow for motion. Additionally the cartilage and lubricating joint fluid can dry out with age, making them more brittle. In the facet joints, which link adjacent vertebrae, the cartilage that coats the vertebral bodies can wear away, resulting in bone-on-bone contact. The body produces bone spurs as a natural stabilizing response to this increased friction and instability.

Treatment options

If symptoms result and a diagnosis is made, treatment of bone spurs usually begins with doctor-recommended treatments like rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, hot and cold compression therapy, massage and physical therapy. This mode of treatment usually has the following goals:

  • Relieve any pain and discomfort
  • Maintain or improve spinal stability and flexibility
  • Increase strength in the muscles surrounding the spinal column
  • Improve range of motion

However, if nonsurgical treatment does not allow for a return to normal activity after being fully explored, you may be referred to a specialist to consider surgical options. If you are recommended for surgery but have concerns about the risks and difficulties of traditional open spine surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. We specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery that offers our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional procedures.^

For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for an outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute, contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.