What is a disc osteophyte complex?

Disc osteophyte complex is a condition that can conceivably develop anywhere along the spinal column. Specifically, this condition describes a situation where a patient has experienced osteophyte (bone spur) growth on more than one spinal vertebra or vertebral body. Yet, while this may seem troubling on the surface, bone spurs are not symptomatic by themselves. Indeed, many people have osteophytes in their body and are unaware of their presence. Typically, bone spurs in the spine only become troublesome when they impinge a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord, or when they impede regular movement in the neck or back.

While the exact cause of disc osteophyte complex isn’t always clear, it can usually be traced to conditions or risk factors that have contributed to or accelerated the deterioration of the spinal column. Some of the most common contributing lifestyle factors include obesity, extensive overexertion and having a profession that requires frequent bending, twisting or lifting.

How do you treat a spinal bone spur?

In the event that a patient is diagnosed with a spinal bone spur or disc osteophyte complex at several spinal levels, the next step is to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. To be clear, a bone spur is a growth of excess hardened calcium that can’t be “cured” in the traditional sense. Instead, treatment is designed to manage the patient’s symptoms and strengthen the muscles that support the degenerated region of the spine. In many cases, a conservative treatment approach can be highly successful, although the patient should be prepared to make a commitment to several weeks of treatment, which may entail a certain degree of trial and error.

Some examples of the types of treatments that are often recommended to address disc osteophyte complex, include:

  • The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Stretching techniques like yoga or Pilates
  • Hot/cold therapy

When conservative treatment isn’t enough

Sometimes conservative treatment fails to deliver acceptable results. In this instance, more advanced treatments may be considered. The use of epidural injections near the site of the disc osteophyte complex may be effective, although if the condition is widespread, this may not be the most practical course of action. Sometimes, surgical removal of the bone spurs is the most appropriate response. At Laser Spine Institute, we specialize in many different state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures that can address disc osteophyte complex and other degenerative spine conditions. To determine if you might be a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*