for Patients

Bone Spur

Overview

A bone spur is an abnormal bone growth. In the spine, they occur on the vertebrae. Despite what the name implies, the spurs are rarely sharp. They are not threatening, but they can cause inflammation and interfere with the function of other parts in the spine, like ligaments, discs, tendons and nerves. A bone spur is also referred to as an osteophyte.

Causes

Bone spurs can result from two different causes:

  • A response to pressure, rubbing or stress on the bone that happens over a long period of time, usually as the discs that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae of the spine deteriorate. Your body detects this is a problem that needs to be repaired, and tries to do so by growing extra bone.
  • Osteoarthritis, which is a result of the normal aging process that breaks down cartilage, the tissue that covers the ends of bones. This causes pain and swelling, resulting the body creating bone spurs to try to correct the problem.

Symptoms

  • Back ache
  • Pain, numbness or weakness in other areas of the body depending in where on the spine the bone spur has formed. You may experience shooting or radiating pain in your arms, leg or neck

Diagnosis

First step toward diagnosis will be a physical exam by one of our physicians. A bone spur and its effects can also be diagnosed by X-Ray, MRI, myelogram, bone scan, discography, CT scan, or EMG.

Treatment

We have several methods of treating bone spurs.

  • Physical Therapy. Often, bone spurs discs can be treated nonsurgically by strengthening the muscles of the back and core through physical therapy and exercise. This treatment also includes stretching exercises that help relieve pain.
  • Medication. We may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and swelling associated with a herniated disc.
  • Surgery.  If surgery is required for a bone spur disc, treatment can often be provided in an outpatient setting with a minimally invasive surgical procedure. The procedures are completed either in our spine dedicated surgical center or the local spine accredited hospital. 

Types of possible surgery: