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Spinal bone spur

What is a spinal bone spur?

A spinal bone spur, or osteophyte, is a small, smooth calcium deposit that develops on one of the bony surfaces of the spine. Bone spurs can develop anywhere in the body, but they are especially common in the facet joints and vertebrae of the spine.

What causes spinal bone spurs?

Spinal bone spurs develop as the body’s response to friction. When bone rubs against bone, the body produces osteophytes to reinforce the area that is wearing down. Routine spinal degeneration and osteoarthritis are the most common causes of osteophytes.

On some occasions, bone spurs can develop as a result of a traumatic injury, such as a car accident or a sports injury. And, although smoking, poor posture and carrying excess weight are not direct causes of bone spurs, they can accelerate the process of spinal degeneration.

Spinal bone spur symptoms

If a bone spur is not compressing a nerve root or the spinal cord, it is highly unlikely to cause any symptoms. In fact, many people have osteophytes without even realizing it.

However, bone spurs take up space in the spinal column. In some cases, they can even compress a nerve root or the spinal cord, which can trigger a number of painful symptoms, though localized pain at the site of the compression is the most common. Radiating arm and leg pain, muscle weakness and tingling can also occur, along with stiffness and a restricted range of motion.

Spinal bone spur diagnosis

Spinal bone spurs are typically diagnosed after a medical history, physical examination and one or more imaging scans. Sometimes, physicians may recommend a nerve conduction test to eliminate other potential causes.

Common treatments for spinal bone spurs

Once a person has been diagnosed with a spinal bone spur, he or she can begin developing a treatment plan with the assistance of a physician. In most cases, symptoms can be adequately managed with medications, exercises, physical therapy and other nonsurgical approaches. However, in some cases, it may be beneficial to remove part or all of the bone spur from the body.

Do I need surgery?

Your physician can help you determine if you need surgical treatment, although surgery is usually reserved as a last resort option. It’s rare for a physician to recommend surgery immediately after diagnosing a patient, without at least trying several nonsurgical therapies first.

In the event you do need surgery, you likely have several options — including minimally invasive surgical alternatives to an open neck or back operation. At Laser Spine Institute Cincinnati, our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice compared to traditional open spine surgery for individuals with spinal bone spurs.

To find out if you are a candidate for minimally invasive bone spur surgery at Laser Spine Institute contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*