Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are extra growths of bone that form at the site of cartilage deterioration, typically on the body’s joints. In the spine, bone spurs appear most often on the vertebral plates and inside the facet joints.
Bone spurs will not go away with alternative treatments, but it is possible that certain alternative treatments can help to manage any pain that is a result of bone spurs infringing on spinal nerves. While tissue-related spine conditions, such as herniated discs and bulging discs, do have the ability to heal themselves through the process of resorption, bone spurs are permanent deposits. However, just because bone spurs will not go away on their own, there is no reason to rush into the decision of undergoing surgery. You should first work with your doctor to design a plan of conservative, non-operative treatment to manage the discomfort of spinal bone spurs.
Alternative Treatment Options
Alternative treatments, from ancient holistic remedies to state-of-the-art ultrasound therapy, may provide you with temporary pain relief. Below are some examples:
- Exercise – Low-impact exercise like swimming or walking has proven beneficial for many people suffering from bone spurs. Exercise therapy is not for everyone, however, so make sure to consult with your doctor to make sure that your exercise plan won’t make your condition worse. A main benefit of exercise is that it is believed to increase endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers; exercise also builds the strength of muscles surrounding the spine so that less pressure is exerted on the osteophyte-affected joints or vertebrae.
- Diet – If your doctor has told you that you are overweight, you may be able to take pressure off your spine by losing weight, which in turn may relieve neural compression caused by spinal bone spurs. Staying hydrated and consuming fish and nuts, both foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, also can help with joint lubrication.
- Injections – Generally only used if exercise, stretching, and behavior modification have proven ineffective, injections of corticosteroids into the epidural space near the affected joint space can provide weeks or months of temporary relief from pain.
Minimally Invasive Alternatives
Despite your best efforts, alternative treatments will not prove successful for everyone. If this is the case, your doctor may suggest that you undergo surgery to remove your bone spurs and release neural compression. Before consenting to a highly invasive operation, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our medical experts can tell you more about the benefits of minimally invasive, endoscopic spine procedures which are safe and effective, and are performed on an outpatient basis.