What Are Bone Spurs?
Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are bony-like growths that form on a normal bone and can cause chronic back pain. Bone spurs form as part of the aging process and also in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a long period of time and the body tries to repair itself by building extra bone, resulting in the spur. Bone spurs on the spine can limit joint movement and put pressure on nerves causing chronic back pain, numbness or tingling sensations in the hands and feet. In some cases, endoscopic spine surgery can treat bone spurs.
As we age, the discs that provide cushioning between the bones of the spine may break down and the slippery tissue called cartilage that covers the ends of the bones within joints, breaks down and eventually wears away, this is called osteoarthritis. Bone spurs are usually found on the spine, shoulders, hands, hips, knees or feet. Spurs due to aging are especially common in the joints of the spine and feet.
If a spinal bone spur grows inward, it can cause pain by constricting the spinal canal and pressing on the nerve roots. When a spinal bone spur presses on surrounding nerve structures it becomes a source of mild to severe nerve-related pain, and should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Back or neck bone spurs usually form after a fracture of the vertebra. Vertebral fractures can be caused by a traumatic event or injury, although more often they generally result from simple stresses, such as lifting. Because the spine naturally weakens from aging and daily wear and tear, spinal bone spurs are more common in older people than in younger people.
Bone Spur Symptoms
Back and neck bone spurs are actually quite smooth and will often not have any symptoms. It is only when the spur presses on a nearby structure that they will start to cause problems. When symptoms are present they include, chronic back pain, joint pain and loss of motion in the joint. Bone spurs on the spine may press on nerves, causing numbness or tingling sensations in other parts of the body. Over time, this leads to pain and swelling and, in some cases, bone spurs forming along the edges of the joint. Bone spurs on the neck may grow inward making it difficult to swallow or breath, or they may push against veins in the neck restricting blood flow to the brain.
A specific type of bone spur known as facet joint bone spurs, affect the structures that enable motion and therefore can cause bone spur symptoms in conjunction with movement.
How is a Bone Spur Diagnosed?
In most cases, a bone spur is only discovered when an X-ray is done for another condition.
Bone Spur Treatment Options
At the Spine Center of America, we will devise treatment options tailored to your specific condition. We take both non-surgical and surgical approaches to treat your condition, depending on the severity and the treatment plan that is right for you. Since your treatment involves the spine, it is strongly recommended that a board certified spine surgeon performs the procedure. Every physician at our comprehensive spine center is a board certified spinal surgeon.
Traditional, non-surgical back and neck bone spurs treatment is accomplished through a conservative nature. Conservative bone spur treatments are often able to mitigate mild to moderate nerve compression and is usually the first course of treatment.
The main purpose of spinal bone spur surgery is to remove the bone spurs and to repair the damage areas, if necessary. Bone spur removal and any necessary spinal repair can be accomplished with either open spine surgery, or minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery.
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