Common Causes of a Spinal Bone Spur

What are Bone Spurs?

A spinal bone spur is a relatively common condition that can occur almost anywhere in the body. Bone spurs are often caused by osteoarthritis.This is an inflammation of joints caused by the wearing away of cartilage with age. When the protective layer of cartilage wears away, bones of the joints begin to rub directly against each other, which can lead to stiffness and pain. Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are the body’s natural attempt to stabilize the affected joint.

The facet joints in the spine are especially prone to developing bone spurs because of the tremendous amount of pressure and wear that are placed upon them on a daily basis. Although not always painful, there is a likelihood of these growths narrowing the nerve pathways in the spine and causing compression. The resulting symptoms can be very difficult to live with, affecting your ability to do simple activities like working in the yard or preparing a meal. Having a better understanding of what causes a spinal bone spur can help in both the treatment and prevention of this condition.

Risk Factors that Cause Spinal Bone Spurs

The biggest underlying cause of bone spurs, and the degenerative conditions that lead to them, is aging. While no one is able to reverse the aging process, there are other preventable risk factors associated with spine conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease. These include:

  • Carrying excessive weight, which places more pressure on the joints
  • Sustaining trauma due to auto accidents or other injuries
  • Repetitive twisting or turning often associated with playing certain sports or performing certain jobs
  • Tobacco and excessive alcohol use, which can both cause joint inflammation and speed up the effects of aging

Symptoms and Treatment Options

Radiating symptoms related to nerve compression by a bone spur will vary according to location in the spine. For example, bone spur growth in the cervical (upper) spine may cause symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. A bone spur in the lumbar (lower) spine can affect the lower back and cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

Upon diagnosing a bone spur as the source of these symptoms, doctors will usually first prescribe conservative treatments. Depending on the severity of the condition and the health of the patient, they will get different recommendations. However, all doctors will recommend a variety of conservative treatments in order to combat their condition. Conservative therapy options often include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Massage

Your doctor may suggest surgery if these opnservative methods are ineffective. Traditional, open-back surgeries are no longer the only option for patients with a spinal bone spur. Now, with modern technology, patients can find minimally invasive procedures. 

Surgery with BEST 

At BEST Health System, our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive procedures all performed on an outpatient basis. If you are suffering from a spinal bone spur or another spine condition, contact us today.