Bone spurs can form along the spine as the ligaments and joints that connect the vertebrae begin to break down, threatening spinal stability. This gradual degeneration can occur at any level of the spine and is a natural part of aging. Through the years, the spine deteriorates as a result of the daily wear and tear endured by the bones, ligaments, cartilage, and other spinal tissue. Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are smooth, bony growths produced by the body in response to diminished spinal stability. Most osteophytes are asymptomatic, although symptoms can arise if the bone spur irritates or compresses a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord itself.
Risk Factors for Bone Spurs
There are several risk factors that can lead to the development of bone spurs, including:
- Age – People 50 or older are more likely to develop arthritis of the spine, which can lead to bone spur development.
- Overused joints – This can occur through repetitive lifting, bending, or twisting, as well as constantly slouching while seated at a desk or driving.
- Injury or trauma to bones – Whiplash, compression fractures, or other kinds of injuries can hasten the degeneration of joints.
- Obesity – Excess body weight places more stress on the joints.
- Genetics – Inherited traits can produce conditions experienced by family members.
- Other conditions – Decreased blood supply, chronic illness, infection, or a diminished immune system can contribute to joint degradation.
Treatment for Bone Spurs
Symptoms associated with bone spurs usually can be managed successfully through conservative treatment methods, such as pain medication and physical therapy. If chronic pain persists after weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery might be considered. However, a patient should never feel as if highly invasive open back surgery is the only option. Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures designed to alleviate back or neck pain associated with bone spurs. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more, and to receive a free review of an MRI or CT scan.