What are the symptoms of bone spurs?

Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are abnormal growths of bone that can develop inside facet joints, which connect the vertebrae in the spine. Bone spurs can also develop along the endplates of vertebrae. Your body produces bone spurs in response to the friction of bone rubbing against bone, which is often caused by spinal arthritis.

Bone spurs don’t always cause symptoms, but they can be painful and seriously disruptive to your life if symptoms do develop. By learning more about the specific symptoms and how they are caused you can give yourself the best chance of finding lasting relief and a return to normal activities.

Bone spur and osteoarthritis symptoms

Symptoms caused directly by bone spurs are the result of nerve compression. While the growth of osteophytes isn’t painful itself, they can narrow the already tight nerve passageways in the spine and put pressure on the spinal cord or an exiting nerve root. Patients with bone spurs often experience the following symptoms resulting from both nerve compression and the presence of spinal arthritis:

  • Crepitus — the painful sensation of bone grinding against bone
  • Stiffness — joint stiffness or spontaneous joint lockage
  • Local pain — a throbbing or cramp-like feeling in the joint space
  • Traveling pain — pain that travels from the joint to the extremities due to a compressed nerve
  • Tingling or numbness — prolonged neural compression can lead to loss of sensation

Although primarily an age-related condition, other factors that can lead to the development of arthritis and bone spurs include overexertion, poor posture and traumatic injury.

Treatment for bone spurs

If you do experience symptoms of bone spurs, your doctor may recommend conservative treatments. The goal of this type of treatment is to help you manage your pain and restore mobility. Conservative therapies for bone spurs include:

  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Pain medication
  • Stretching
  • Lifestyle changes like weight management and posture improvement
  • Selective nerve block injections

If you have tried the above treatments for several months and are not experiencing lasting pain relief, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Bone spur treatment at Laser Spine Institute

At Laser Spine Institute we specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery that has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck or back pain since 2005. We are proud to offer treatment on an outpatient basis to patients who are experiencing the symptoms of bone spurs. Our procedures use a small, less than 1-inch incision, carry a reduced risk of complications and are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery.^

Reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for your no-cost MRI review* to see if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.