What conditions trigger bone spurs?

Understanding the causes of bone spurs can help you work with your doctor to develop an effective treatment plan. Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are jagged pieces of bone that stick out, which can irritate or pinch nerves in your neck or back. Bone spurs can develop inside facet joints or along the edges of vertebral endplates. Your body produces bone spurs in an attempt to stabilize a weakened spine. However, they can sometimes cause unwanted friction and neural compression, which can lead to symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the spine or throughout the extremities.

These symptoms can have a large impact on your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love. A great first step in getting the treatment you need to return to a better quality of life is educating yourself about the causes of bone spurs. The information in this article can help you and your doctor work together to develop a treatment plan to alleviate your discomfort.

Common causes of bone spurs

Aging is a common cause in the development of bone spurs. As we get older, our bodies can produce bone spurs to assist in stabilizing the joints in the spine, which weakens as the joint cartilage breaks down. Other causes of bone spurs may include:

  • Injury. Bone spurs can form to compensate for the lack of bone density in that particular region, resulting from injuries like a bone fracture.
  • Weight. The joints of overweight individuals are under far more stress than those of someone with a healthy weight, which can lead to accelerated spinal deterioration.
  • Infection. Viral and bacterial infections have been known to trigger facet disease, which causes bone-on-bone contact and triggers the body to create bone spurs.
  • Gender. Women who have already undergone menopause are more at risk to develop bone spurs.
  • Genetics. A family history of osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease increases your risk of bone spurs.

Treatment options for bone spurs

After you understand what causes bone spurs and your doctor has confirmed a diagnosis, he or she can prescribe a course of conservative treatment. This might include anti-inflammatories, muscle spasm medication, chiropractic care, physical therapy or yoga. If weeks or months of these methods do not bring in improvement in your symptoms, you may be a potential candidate for surgery.

Minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute is an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. Our board-certified surgeons+ can access the spine and remove bone spurs with a muscle-sparing, less than 1-inch incision that is performed on an outpatient basis and with a lower risk of complication compared to traditional surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a no-cost MRI review* to learn if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your symptoms associated with bone spurs. We have helped more than 75,000 patients to date find relief from their chronic neck or back pain since 2005.