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Many patients are told they have bone spurs in their own back or neck, together with the consequence that the bone spurs are the cause of their back pain. However, bone spurs in and of themselves are only an indicator that there’s degeneration of the spine; the presence of bone spurs will not necessarily mean that they’re the genuine reason for the individual ‘s back pain.

The term “bone spurs” is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the word “spurs” means that these bony developments are spurring or poking some part of the spinal anatomy and causing pain. However, contrary to this consequence, bone spurs are in fact smooth constructions that form over a lengthy period of time.

Basically, osteophytes are a radiographic marker of spinal degeneration (aging), which means that they show up on X rays or MRI scans and are by and large a standard finding as we age. Over the age of 60, bone spurs on the spine are actually quite common.

Bone Spurs and Spinal Anatomy


The human back is made of thirty-two separate vertebral sections which are separated by intervertebral discs made of collagen and ligaments. These discs permit a restricted level of flexibility and movement at each spinal segment and are shock absorbers. The cumulative effect enables a full selection of movement around the axis of the spinal column, especially the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine).

Movement between each segment is limited by the rough outer disc ligaments along with the joints that move (articulated) at each spinal level (the facet joint). Under each joint, just behind the disc, is a pair of nerve roots that leave the spinal canal. The exiting hole (foramina) that encompasses the nerve (disc in front, joints above and below) is comparatively small and has little room for anything besides the departing nerve.

With factors such as age, injury, and poor posture, there’s accumulative damage to the bone or joints of the back.

Ligaments loosen and excessive motion occurs at the joint, as disc substance slowly wears out
As the central spinal canal and the foramina thicken their ligaments, compression of the nervous system causes clinical symptoms

Degenerative changes to vital tissue that is standard commence in early adulthood, but generally this slow procedure does not present with nervous system compaction until we are in our sixth or seventh decades. Variables that can accelerate bone spur development and the degenerative procedure in the spine include:

  • Congenital or heredity
  • Nutrition
  • Life-style, including poor posture and poor ergonomics
  • Traumatic forces, especially sports related injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

Life style, including poor posture and poor ergonomics
Powers that were wounding, notably sports related automobile accidents and injuries.

As always, to help prevent or minimize back pain it is usually strongly advised to remain nicely conditioned (both in terms of aerobics and strength) and to keep good posture throughout one’s life.

There are several common spinal conditions which are associated with the evolution of bone spurs, including osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis.


Medical suppliers frequently refer to the changes as spinal arthritis or osteoarthritis of the facet joints, and this condition is a standard source of back pain in the older patient population (over 55 or 60).

Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness and lower back pain that gets better after moving around, is generally worse in the early hours, and then gets worse again toward the end of the day.

The most common root cause of cervical and lumbar osteoarthritis is a genetic predisposition. Patients may typically develop symptoms of osteoarthritis in their mid 40s to 50s. Guys are prone to come up with arthritic related symptoms earlier in life, nevertheless, postmenopausal women with stiffening spines (accelerated bone spur formation) quickly approach guys in prevalence and severity of osteoarthritis.

Spinal Stenosis

Enlargement of the bone result in spinal stenosis and can occasionally result in narrowing of the spinal canal.

This illness can cause nerve pinching, leading to pain down the legs that’s not better when the patient stands and walks, and is not worse when sitting. Spinal stenosis is unable to be prevented but it surely can be treated.

As the facet joints are inflamed back pain or neck pain is common and the neck and back muscles become irritated. Typical symptoms include:

  • Dull pain in the neck or lower back when standing or walking
  • Radiating pain into the shoulders (often including headaches) if the cervical spine is affected (See Cervical Bone Spurs)
  • Radiating pain into the butt and thigh if the lumbar spine is changed.
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The indications of bone spurs are made worse with activity and often improve with rest. Typical symptoms of lumbar bone spurs often improve when an individual is bending forward and flexing at the waistline, for example leaning over a cane or over a shopping cart.

As the nerves become compressed, patients with bone spurs whine of several neurological symptoms including:

  • Pain in one or both arms or legs
  • In very rare instances, bowel and bladder incontinence may occur.

Medical conditions apart from bone spurs, including but not restricted to diabetes, poor blood flow to the arms and legs, spinal tumors, fractures, and spinal diseases can also cause symptoms described above.

A lot of the symptoms of bone spurs are like generalized rheumatism, arthritis, back strain and muscle fatigue, as well as acute disc ruptures with nerve compression.

Because typical bone spur symptoms in many cases are similar to a number of other possible conditions, it is important for the patient to consult with appropriate medical professionals to get a thorough and precise investigation.

Diagnostic assessment begins with the clinical examination. The doctor should perform a detailed neurological and spine assessment evaluating for spinal nerve and spinal cord compression.

The key in the diagnostic procedure would be to correlate the patient’s history, symptoms, and any additional testing to find out the cause of the patient’s pain.

Common diagnostic tests to aid in the investigation include:

Electroconductive tests are generally performed to document severity and the amount of spinal nerve injury.

Radiographs begin with an X-ray of the spinal column to ascertain the extent of arthritic changes and bone spur formation. If detrimental changes are present with these pictures the physician may discover or additional radiographic pictures are signaled.

Computerized tomography (CT scans) with myelography and/or MRI scans can provide details about change in the spinal architecture and the degree of nervous system compression. With these films the clinician will correlate clinical symptoms with radiographic findings and recommend the corrective strategy, regularly seeking the consultation of the back surgeon.

As previously noted, the individual may have bone spurs existing in the above mentioned imaging evaluations, but the bone spurs may not be the cause of the patient’s pain. As a result, while the scans are a helpful tool in the diagnostic process, they do not in and of themselves provide a diagnosis.

There’s a wide variety of possible treatment choices for symptomatic bone spurs in the back.

Non Surgical Treatment for Bone Spurs

Most patients with light or moderate nerve compression and irritation from bone spurs can manage their symptoms effectively with nonoperative back care, including:


Medicine, including antiinflammatory medications and muscle relaxant pain drugs, for approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Brief interval of rest

Activity may flare up inflammation in the joints, hence a short amount of rest is initially appropriate.

Rehabilitation treatment

After 1-2 weeks, physical therapy, exercise, and chiropractic adjustment often alleviates the painful joint conditions. Enhancing posture and back, these modalities attempt to restore flexibility and strength to the neck and possibly reducing the compression on the nerves. However, with radiating pain into leg and an arm nerve compression ought to be investigated before starting any type of rehabilitation therapies.


Repeat injections maybe signified, although the consequences are often only temporary. Pain relief from an injection may enable the patient to advance with rehabilitation.

If these nonsurgical measures to treat bone spurs neglect back specialist consultation is appropriate. If patients suffer with acute pain, early referral is suitable or there is clinical signs of nerve compression and damage.

Back Surgery for Bone Spurs

Operation, such as a laminectomy, is designed to ease the pain and neurological symptoms by removing the bone spurs and thickened ligaments causing nerve compression that was painful.

Many patients who undergo surgery for bone spurs experience good outcomes, often gaining years of relief and improved quality of life.

Studies have demonstrated that age is not a leading factor in determining whether a person will benefit from back surgery for bone spurs. Nonetheless, surgical hazards can be influenced by medical conditions frequently related to age, for example heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure and impede the healing processes, and consequently ought to be considered when selecting surgery.

If nerve or spinal cord compression is causing unremitting pain or motor loss is documented on assessment spine surgery for bone spurs becomes necessary.

It is crucial to discuss the risks and benefits of the assorted tactics to back surgery with one’s surgical advisor to understand all potential factors as they pertain to the individual situation of one.

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