Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are protrusions of the body’s natural bone structure. These protrusions are created in response to continual stress and pressure applied to our bones. Bone spurs can sometimes impinge on a nerve, causing pain, restricted movement and other symptoms. This is especially debilitating when bone spurs occur along the spinal column.
Why Bone Spurs Form
Our bodies sometimes create bone spurs in the neck and back as a natural, self-protective response to stress and friction. This becomes necessary when the discs between vertebrae deteriorate, allowing vertebrae to rub directly on each other. Cartilage between the vertebrae also naturally deteriorates over time, wearing down as we age. Thus, bone spurs are often created in response to the natural aging process.
There are several spinal conditions that cause disc deterioration and secondary bone spurs. Some of these primary conditions are also a result of aging, including:
- Osteoarthritis – This degenerative disorder results in the loss of cushioning cartilage on joint surfaces. Symptoms include inflammation and pain, which can vary in severity. As the cartilage between joints is diminished, the body sometimes creates bone spurs to compensate.
- Degenerative Disc Disease – This spinal condition causes the discs between vertebrae to become thinner and more fragile over time. This allows vertebrae to move closer together and eventually leads to bone-on-bone friction. Bone spurs develop to compensate for the weakened cartilage and increased friction. Common symptoms are pain, stiffness, numbness and tingling, which may worsen while sitting.
The Next Step
Patients who suffer from degenerative spinal conditions are at greater risk for developing bone spurs. Speak with your primary care physician or a back specialist if you think bone spurs may be affecting your life. And, if you’ve tried several treatment options for spinal bone spur pain but haven’t found sufficient relief, contact Laser Spine Institute for information about our safe, effective outpatient procedures that are designed to remove bone spurs from the spine and help you rediscover your life without back or neck pain.