For those with back pain, bone spurs are a common issue that often surfaces—an enlargement of normal bony structures in the back or neck areas that indicates that there is degeneration in the spine of an individual.
The exact medical term for bone spurs is osteophytes, and basically, they are a radiographic marker of spinal degeneration (aging) that are by and large a normal finding as aging occurs. For those over the age of six, bone spurs on the spine are actually quite common. Below are a few of the primary causes:
• Disc degeneration. Degenerative disc disease is an accelerated deterioration of the spinal discs that occurs due to aging. Bone spurs can develop as discs shrink and vertebrae come in contact with one another.
• Spinal osteoarthritis. A joint disorder that causes the cartilage between joints to wear down and away, leading to bone spurs.
• Traumatic injury. Car accidents and impacts from physical sports like football can contribute to spinal bone spurs.
Though normal life stressors, possibly compounded by traumatic injuries to the spinal architecture, can also aid in degeneration of the discs and joints of the spine, possibly the biggest underlying factor is still quite simply the natural aging process.
As people age, bodies tend not to stay well hydrated, making connective tissue brittle and leading to bone-on-bone contact that causes bone spurs to develop. It is important to note that degenerative changes to normal vital tissue begin in early adulthood– but since it is an extremely slow process, the effects do not become present in nervous system compression until humans are in their sixties.
In addition to age, additional factors such as injury and poor posture also provide cumulative damage to the bone or joints of the spine by accelerating the degenerative process and allowing bone spur growth in the spine to increase. These include everything from nutrition and lifestyle to congenital or hereditary issues, and traumatic forces like sports-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents.
Keep in mind that the ultimate and direct reason behind osteophytes is usually due to pressure applied to the bone structures of the body. In response to this added pressure, the body develops bone spurs in order to further stabilize joints, as spurs can cause stiffness, weakness, and pain, depending on the specific location.
In order to help avoid or minimize back pain, it is always generally advisable to stay extremely well-conditioned (both in terms of aerobics and strength) and to maintain good posture throughout one’s daily routine. Super simple practices such as performing stretch routines, for example, are great ways to increase the strength and flexibility of the neck and back to help avoid common bone spur causes.
At the end of the day, no matter which causes are to blame in any individual spinal case, the weakness, pain, and numbness caused will definitely warrant some sort of treatment to help ease symptoms. While initial treatments generally include rest and physical therapy, as well as carious pain medications, bone spur surgery is often times advised for more persistent and severe cases.
Regarding bone spur surgery, there are traditional open neck and open back procedures that are able to provide relief, along with other minimally invasive options available for certain patients who qualify. The first step is always to consult a spine specialist and to have an MRI done for review by a professional to determine if you are a candidate for surgical options.
Let Us Help
To further educate yourself about the symptoms of bone spurs and to learn about possible treatments options to best manage pain or discomfort, contact Yashar Neurosurgery today.
Over the years, Doctor Yashar has become a preeminent Neurosurgeon in the Los Angeles, San Fernando, and Santa Clarita areas, specializing on all aspects within the field of Neurosurgery, along with a special emphasis on spinal, bone spur Surgery and Interventional Neurosurgical Procedures. We are committed to providing compassionate care and empathy to all of our patients.