When to Consider Surgery for Osteophytes

What are Osteophytes?

Osteophytes, also called bone spurs, can form near the joints or vertebrae of the spine. These small growths, while not necessarily painful, can cause debilitating symptoms if they put pressure on spinal nerves.

For patients diagnosed with osteophytes, the question of whether surgery will be necessary can be a source of anxiety. While surgery always comes with some degree of risk, spine surgery in particular is highly invasive and comes with a high risk of complication and a long recovery period. That is why many patients are relieved to learn that spinal osteophytes can often be treated without spine surgery. Several conservative treatment methods help reduce the pressure of the bone spur on the nerve, therefore reducing the pain and symptoms.

Common Symptoms

These growths are the body’s natural response to the increased joint friction that can result from conditions like degenerative disc disease or spinal arthritis. Symptoms of a bone spur most commonly arise when bone spurs come into contact with a nearby nerve and may include:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Decrease in range of motion
  • Diminished circulation
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing problems could result if the bone spur is in the upper (cervical) spine

Surgery for osteophytes is usually recommended only if several months of nonsurgical treatments have failed to reduce your symptoms.

Minimally Invasive Spine Treatment for Osteophytes

In a traditional open back surgery to remove a bone spur the surgeon will remove the osteophytes through a large incision that requires disruption of the surrounding muscles. This highly invasive procedure can lead to hospitalization for several days, followed by a lengthy and painful recovery process.

At BEST Health System, however, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery that allows our surgeons to access the spine through a small incision. This method is muscle-sparing, with tissues being pushed aside, allowing for an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication and a shorter recovery period compared to traditional open spine surgery. Contact us today to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.