Bone spurs are bony enlargements that grow out of normal bone structure. Sometimes bone spurs are not painful, cause no symptoms, and can go undetected for years. However, some people face extreme pain from bone spurs. Where they are located and their size has the most to do with how they affect each person. Bone spurs in the neck and back are commonly very painful. They are most commonly associated with aging, arthritis, and poor posture. Painful bone spurs can lead to limited movement and the inability to perform many needed tasks – both professionally and personally.
The most common symptoms of spinal and neck bone spurs are severe back or neck pain, numbness, restricted movement of the joints, weakness in the extremities, and radiating arm and leg pain. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones, the body attempts to repair the loss of cartilage by creating bone spurs. While the bone spurs may help to increase the amount of surface area for load bearing, the bone spurs can become incredibly painful when they begin to touch surrounding areas of bone, nerves, or tissue. Bone spurs can also break off, referred to as “loose bodies,” and become embedded in the lining of other joints.
Most people need medical care from a spinal expert in order to diagnose and treat bone spurs of the spine or neck. Specialized treatment is needed to help people find relief from bone spurs and the symptoms that they cause. There are pain relievers available, minimally invasive procedures, as well as surgical procedures that may be required if the bone spurs press on nerves and cause severe pain. Bone spurs that are painful should be evaluated by a doctor for specialized care.
Posted on behalf of Dr. James Chappuis MD FACS, SpineCenterAtlanta