Bone spurs afflict many patients of Laser Spine Institute; learn more about this condition
Contrary to their name, bone spurs are actually smooth bone growths the body creates to strengthen weakening bone mass during the natural aging process. Bone spurs are not generally symptomatic. However, when these growths begin impinging the surrounding nerves or spinal cord, patients may experience chronic or severe symptoms.
Spinal bone spur causes
Spinal bone spurs, also known as spinal osteophytes, develop as the body’s natural response to continued and prolonged bone-on-bone contact, which occurs when the soft, cushioning discs that separate the vertebrae deteriorate over time. This disc degeneration can be accelerated by a number of different factors including smoking, poor posture and excessive weight gain. However, the most common cause of spinal bone spurs is the natural aging process. As you grow older, the tendons and ligaments in your back can start to tighten and pull the vertebrae away from their natural position, resulting in abnormal bone placement. Arthritic changes in the spinal joints also can lead to bone spur formation.
Diagnosis of spinal bone spurs
In order to determine if bone spurs are at the source of your discomfort, your physician will carefully look over your medical background and then perform a comprehensive spinal examination. If he or she believes that your spinal nerves or spinal cord are being compressed by bone spurs, a CT scan or MRI might be requested to provide a clearer image of your spine. It is important to note that, while these tests are a useful tool in your diagnosis, they cannot always in and of themselves prove that bone spurs are the exact source of your pain.
Bone spur symptoms
Living with the pain and symptoms sometimes caused by bone spurs can be debilitating. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain radiating into arms and legs
- Chronic pain at the area of the condition
- Radiating tingling
- Inability to move freely without pain
- Radiating numbness
Suffering through life with these symptoms can have a debilitating impact on your ability to perform daily tasks, which is why Laser Spine Institute is dedicated to helping as many patients with bone spurs as possible.
Conservative and alternative treatments for spinal bone spurs
Before looking into surgery as the best treatment option for you and your lifestyle, we recommend exhausting the available conservative treatment options. Often these nonsurgical solutions are effective in treating the pain and symptoms caused by bone spurs. Some examples of conservative treatments include physical therapy, stretching, exercise and pain or anti-inflammatory medications. These methods are aimed at reducing pain, as well as lengthening and strengthening the spine to help ease the pressures caused by bone-on-bone contact. If these conservative treatments do not provide relief, some patients have found alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic care to be helpful, although these methods are generally seen as outside the medical mainstream.
Bone spur surgical treatment
However, for some people, conservative options may prove ineffective. For these patients, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures. Performed through an incision smaller than an inch, these procedures offer a quicker recovery^ and lower risk of complication than open surgery.
For more information regarding our procedures, and to receive a no-cost review of your most recent MRI, * contact Laser Spine Institute today.