Symptoms of Spinal Bone Spurs and Treatment Options

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Spinal bone spurs are a common cause of neck and back pain, resulting from the degeneration on the spine, which is often a normal aspect of the aging process. The name of this condition is misleading, because very rarely are there actual spurs (bony growths) causing the spinal pain. Most often, the spurs are actually smooth structures that result over a long period of time. Often referred to as osteophytes, these spurs cause an enlargement to areas of the spine. Due to the fact they are considered to be a normal part of the aging process, those over 60 have an increased risk for the bone spurs.

Symptoms of Bone Spurs

Some people never experience symptoms of bone spurs, depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms of bone spurs include pain in the neck and back. Often the facet joint becomes inflamed, causing the neck and back muscles to become irritated. The symptom is a dull pain when walking or standing. The pain can radiate to the shoulders, which can cause headaches. If the lumbar spine is affected by the spurs, there can be radiating pain in the thighs and rear.

Most symptoms of bone spurs subside with rest and worsen during activity. It’s not unusual for the symptoms of bone spurs to subside while the patient is bending over or flexing the waist. The spurs often cause neurological symptoms, if the nerves become compressed. These symptoms include pain in the arms or legs, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs and weakness of the arms or legs. Bowel and bladder incontinence can occur as well, but these are rare symptoms.

Treatment of Bone Spurs

Because the symptoms of bone spurs mimic other medical conditions, a proper diagnosis is needed prior to starting treatment for bone spurs. To diagnose bone spurs, a clinical examination is conducted. CT scans or MRI scans are often used to provide the physician with an image of the spine. X-rays are conducted for the same reason. Nerve tests can be performed as well, to determine the severity of the pain.

Most cases of spinal bone spurs require medications to cope with the symptoms. Treatment of bone spurs involves the use of anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers and pain medications. Cortisone injections are often used as well. Repeat injections are usually needed to manage the pain.

Limiting activity is often recommended while treating bone spurs. Rehabilitation therapy is often recommended as well. Chiropractic manipulations and exercises often relieve the pain caused by the spurs.

In severe cases, surgery to relieve the pain and neurological symptoms may be needed. This is known as laminectomy. This surgery involves removing the bone spurs and thickened ligaments that are responsible for the symptoms. The surgery is considered to be very effective.

References

“Bone Spurs: Causes” https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bone-spurs/DS00627/DSECTION=causes

“Clinical Symptoms of Bone Spurs” https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/back-pain/clinical-symptoms-bone-spurs

“Treatment Options for Bone Spurs” https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/back-pain/treatment-options-bone-spurs