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Bone Spurs (Osteophytes)

Injury and decay can diminish the natural structures that support your bones. The spine and other parts of the skeletal system may produce bone spurs to repair the bone in an attempt to provide additional stability.

Bone spurs, also called Osteophytes, are not inherently a problem; however, they can cause severe back pain if they contact or pinch an adjacent nerve.

It should be noted that a bone cyst is different from a bone spur. A cyst is a hollow cavity within the bone that is filled with fluid. Although bone cysts are normally benign, a physician should examine the condition as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Bone Spurs in the spine

These bony projections can occur in any health issue that compromises the stability of the spine. There are a large number of conditions that cause bone spurs. Common factors include the aging process, traumatic injuries and degenerative diseases, such as facet syndrome, degenerative disc disease, and osteoarthritis.

Pain: Bone spurs can cause sharp back pain when they contact nerves. Symptoms will vary based on which nerve the bone spurs touch or compress.

In addition to back pain and neck pain, bone spurs can cause symptoms in your arms, legs or around your torso if they touch nerve roots.

Restricted Movement: The pain often makes sitting, standing, and other everyday physical activities difficult. The natural response may be to restrict movement, but this reduces overall flexibility and range of motion more over time.

Numbness and Tingling: Compressed nerves can cause these abnormal neurological sensory changes as well. If you experience numbness or tingling, speak with your physician. Ignoring these symptoms can also lead to the loss of normal bodily functions.

Diagnosis of Bone Spurs

A thorough spinal examination includes an assessment for bone spurs (osteophytes). The evaluation will determine whether these bony projections or a different spinal condition is causing your back pain symptoms.

Those with back pain symptoms require medical imaging studies to confirm the presence of bone spurs. Your doctor may order a combination of X-rays, CT scan or an MRI to determine the overall condition of your back and spine.

Treatment of Spinal Bone Spurs (Osteophytes)

Physicians typically employ conservative treatments for newly diagnosed osteophytes. These non-surgical treatments include massage, hot and cold therapy, pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, and even acupuncture. Over time, these treatments can gradually provide back pain relief.

If these non-surgical treatments do not relieve your back pain, speak with your physician about injections and possible surgical options.

Contact your doctor to learn more about bone spur treatment options. There may be effective treatments you can try to reduce or eliminate bone spur-related back pain to improve your quality of life.