Bone spurs are growths in bone tissue that can form in several areas in the body—including the spine, shoulders, knees and fingers. Bone spurs typically form when discs or cartilage tissue that normally cushion bones and prevent them from rubbing together are injured, damaged or wear down over time. When bones touch, it can lead to significant pain and a diminished range of motion. Bone spurs in the neck can potentially restrict normal blood flow to the brain or interfere with normal breathing and swallowing.
A bone spur can occur in area of the spine, including the cervical spine in the neck region, as well as the lumbar spine in the lower back.
Symptoms associated with bone spurs include pain and inflammation in the back or neck that can be accompanied by muscle spasms or weakness, tingling or burning sensations, numbness and diminished flexibility in the back, neck, knees or shoulders. In some cases, bone spurs in the spine can press on the spinal cord or nerves triggering pain that radiates down through your buttocks and the back of the thighs.
North American Spine Can Help
North American Spine’s free MRI review will help to determine whether a bone spur or other condition is causing your symptoms. If the bone spur is identified as a cause of pain, your North American Spine patient coordinator will discuss treatment options available through North American Spine’s highly trained partner physicians.
More About Bone Spurs
Bone Spur Basics
Normally, the bones in your body don’t come into direct contact with one another. Instead, they’re cushioned by various other types of tissue. For instance, in your spine, gel-like discs sit between each individual bone (vertebra) and its neighbor and keep the bones properly spaced. In other parts of your spine, and in other areas of your body, a tissue called cartilage covers the tips of adjacent bones and allows them to work smoothly together inside your joints.
Bone spurs typically form when this cushioning system fails and neighboring bones rub against each other. In the front portion of your spine, this can occur when your discs lose their normal height and allow contact between the outside edges of adjacent vertebrae. In the rear portion of your spine and other areas such as your knees, it can occur when the protective cartilage erodes and no longer provides a smooth joint surface.
Bone Spur Causes
Potential risk factors or causes of the bone spur formation include the degenerative form of arthritis called osteoarthritis, any other arthritic condition that leads to joint or disc deterioration, genetic predisposition, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, improper posture, nutritional deficiencies and structural abnormalities in your bones or other tissues.
In combination with osteoarthritis, bone spurs can trigger a form of lower back or neck degeneration called spondylosis. Other conditions in which bone spurs play a role include a narrowing of the spinal canal called spinal stenosis and a separate spinal disorder called diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis, or DISH. In some cases, bone spurs form as part of the normal aging process and don’t cause any significant health problems. In other cases, bone spurs can actually strengthen the overall structure of aging joints.
Bone Spur Symptoms
The majority of people with bone spurs experience no significant symptoms or problems. When symptoms do occur, they most commonly appear as pain and inflammation in your back or neck. Other potential symptoms that can appear in your back, neck, knees or shoulders include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, tingling or burning sensations, numbness and diminished flexibility or body coordination.
In some cases, bone spurs in your spine can press on your spinal cord or nearby nerves and trigger pain that radiates down through your buttocks and the backs of your thighs. Bone spurs in your neck can potentially restrict normal blood flow to your brain or interfere with normal breathing or swallowing. If part of a bone spur breaks loose, it can float or lodge inside a joint’s interior and inhibit or prevent joint movement.
Bone Spur Treatments
When bone spurs lead to problems, potential treatments include rest, over-the-counter pain medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), injections of a medication called cortisone and exercises or physical therapy designed to encourage better posture, increase your strength and flexibility, encourage better posture and ease any abnormal nerve pressure. If bone spurs significantly inhibit normal movement or cause other serious difficulties, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to remove them.
Take the Next Step
Contact North American Spine to determine whether a minimally invasive procedure is right for you. Contact a patient coordinator at (877) 474-2225 and request a free MRI review.