Spinal bone spurs do not always cause problems or require treatment. These smooth bony deposits are produced naturally by the body in response to spinal degeneration. Their purpose is to help fortify weakened vertebrae and joints. But because bone spurs take up space within the spinal canal, they can compress sensitive spinal nerves. If this occurs, symptoms such as pain, numbness, and muscle weakness can result.
If you’ve been diagnosed with symptomatic bone spurs you might be wondering if they can be removed. In short, the answer is yes. However, surgery is the only way to actually remove a bone spur, and removal may not be necessary for symptom relief.
How to find relief without removing a bone spur
Before considering surgery to remove bone spurs, many physicians advise their patients to try to manage their symptoms conservatively. Your physician will recommend an individualized treatment plan for you. For instance, you may find that your discomfort responds well to:
- Weight loss (if appropriate)
- Postural improvement
- Regular walking or swimming
- Physical therapy, including targeted stretches and low-impact exercises
- Hot/cold therapy during painful episodes
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken as needed
- Prescription-strength pain medications and muscle relaxants (if OTC options do not provide sufficient relief)
If this approach proves to be effective, you can generally expect to see an improvement in your symptoms within four to six weeks. It is essential to give your treatment plan enough time to work before moving on to surgery. That’s because nonsurgical treatment can potentially produce results that are comparable to those that can be achieved with the surgical removal of bone spurs. The bottom line is that surgery is a big step and you may not need it.
Minimally Invasive Surgery with BEST
If you ultimately decide to explore surgery to address your symptoms at their source – by removing your bone spurs – contact BEST Health System. Our board-certified surgeons, Dr. Girton and Dr. Abbott perform minimally invasive spine surgery which is a safer and more effective alternative to highly invasive open neck or back surgery. With our on-site MRI, we can help determine if you are a candidate for surgery.