A spinal bone spur is a smooth deposit of excess bony tissue that forms on a degenerated vertebra or facet joint. Bone spur formation is the body’s natural protective response to spinal degeneration, which serves as a way to fortify weakened bones. While bone spurs do not necessarily cause spinal curvature, the two conditions are often related. Here’s how:
Degenerative scoliosis, or excessive spinal curvature, can develop in adults as a result of another condition that affects the vertebrae, such as age-related spinal deterioration. For instance, in older people, particularly women, scoliosis is often associated with osteoporosis. Spinal bones that are weakened by osteoporosis are more likely to deteriorate, which can lead to the development of a bone spur. The cumulative effect of these changes can cause the spine to lose its ability to maintain its shape. As the deterioration progresses, a scoliotic curve can gradually develop.
Is spinal curvature painful?
Before spinal curvature becomes visually apparent, early-stage degenerative scoliosis may cause lower back pain. Usually, the pain is not directly caused by the spinal curve. Instead, a bone spur or other degenerative changes in the spine may be responsible.
More specifically, a bone spur can take up space within the spinal canal, creating excess pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root. A compressed nerve can send pain signals that result in muscle weakness, numbness and pain in the lower extremities. In severe cases, a loss of muscle coordination can make walking difficult.
The pain associated with degenerative scoliosis and bone spurs can often be treated conservatively with mild pain medications, low-impact exercises and special braces that are worn to support the spine. However, if conservative treatment does not provide adequate relief, surgery may become an option. For instance, the surgeons at USA Spine Care perform minimally invasive spine surgery that can pinpoint the location of a painful bone spur and then carefully remove it. Minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery, and the less than 1-inch incision that it requires means that many patients have no lengthy recovery.^
To learn more about the minimally invasive spinal bone spur and degenerative scoliosis treatment options available at USA Spine Care, contact us today.