What is a Bone Spur?

What is a Bone Spur?

To define a spinal bone spur, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how the condition occurs, as well as how it produces symptoms. Osteophytes in the spine are often the body’s response to reduced stability within a spinal joint. As the body ages, the cartilage lining the spinal joints becomes worn. In the spine, the joints where the vertebrae meet are known as facet joints. The soft, smooth cartilage that lines the facet joints is subjected to a great deal of wear and tear. In addition, the joints within the cervical (upper) region and the lumbar (lower) region of the spine aid in supporting the weight of the head and the upper body, respectively.

This combination of body movement and pressure makes joints within the cervical and lumbar regions vulnerable to osteoarthritis, an age-related condition marked by cartilage deterioration in joints. Bone spurs are outgrowths of bone that are a response to the increased friction and instability caused by this deterioration. While they aren’t painful by themselves, this condition can cause nerve compression, which is the source of patients’ symptoms.

Bone Spur Symptoms

Bone spurs are not necessarily symptomatic. The first sign might be a grinding sound known as crepitus, along with a gradual reduction in range of motion. As the bone spur grows, it can begin to encroach on the space occupied by a spinal nerve root or the spinal cord. Certain movements might cause the osteophyte to make contact with a nerve structure. The contact might be constant if the bone spur is large enough or located in just the right spot. Contact between a bone spur and a spinal nerve can cause the following symptoms:

  • Local pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Tingling and numbness in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness

The location of radiating symptoms depends on the region of the spine where the nerve compression is occurring. A cervical bone spur causes symptoms in the shoulders, arms, and hands. A lumbar bone spur can affect the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet.

Treatment Options with BEST Health System

Many people diagnosed with this condition can manage symptoms using a combination of conservative, nonsurgical treatments such as massage, physical therapy, and medication. Surgery can become an option when weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring an improvement in symptoms.
If you are considering surgery and have concerns about the associated risks, there are other options. At BEST Health System, we offer minimally invasive surgical alternatives. This allows our patients to enjoy a more effective, less invasive surgery option. Contact BEST Health System today to learn more about minimally invasive bone spur surgery.