What should I do if I think I have bone spurs?

Feelings of pain, tingling, throbbing or stiffness at the site of one or more spinal facet joints can prompt you to ask the question, “What should I do if I think I have bone spurs?” First, let’s clarify the definition of bone spurs, or osteophytes. These are bony protuberances in facet joints or on vertebrae that form when joint cartilage or intervertebral discs begin to deteriorate. Bone spurs will present symptoms if they grind against other bone or if they come into contact with nearby spinal nerves. Common causes are degenerative disc disease, facet disease, aging, genetics, injury and poor posture.

Diagnostic tests for bone spurs

If you visit your primary care physician because you feel that you could have spinal bone spurs, he or she can conduct a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis:

  • Review of symptoms – The location, frequency, severity and nature of your discomfort are noted by the physician.
  • Physical examination – The physician palpates the spine and looks for areas of inflammation, tenderness or deformity.
  • Radiograph – An X-ray that produces a cross-sectional image used to view the density and composition of bodily tissues.
  • MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging is radiation-free and uses magnetic radio frequency fields to construct an image of the body.
  • CT scan – Computed tomography uses a series of 2-D X-rays to create a 3-D image.

Treatment options

Conservative treatments like pain medication, physical therapy or rest will not heal osteophytes, nor will bone spurs resorb on their own like a herniated disc can. However, such treatments could help you to manage your symptoms so that a surgical solution is never needed. If weeks or months of treatment prove ineffective and your physician suggests that you consider surgery, keep in mind that highly invasive, open spine surgery to remove bone spurs is not your only option. Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that utilize state-of-the-art technology. To find out if you could be a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today.