While the term “bone spur” sounds menacing, it actually describes a smooth calcium growth that can form on a bone that is being subjected to regular friction. A bone spur in the neck, or cervical bone spur, can develop when spinal osteoarthritis or another degenerative spinal condition has caused two vertebrae to rub against each other. This condition is most common in individuals over the age of 50, as the everyday wear and tear that the components of the spine endure can cause them to start to deteriorate with age. Another possible but less common cause is a traumatic injury, like those that can occur in car accidents or while participating in high-impact sports.
Symptoms of a cervical bone spur
Bone spurs can go completely undetected because on their own, they often don’t produce symptoms. However, when they extend into the spinal canal from a vertebra, bone spurs can sometimes come into contact with a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord. This compression can produce a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches. Other possible symptoms of a bone spur in the neck include:
- Localized pain
- Pain that radiates to the shoulders, upper back, arms and hands
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of fine motor function in the hands
- Difficulty walking
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor and receive a full examination to determine if nerve compression due to a bone spur is the source of your discomfort.
Treating a bone spur in the neck
Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will suggest a treatment regimen that may include options such as pain medications, stretching and strengthening exercises, periods of targeted rest and the use of heat and ice. These types of conservative methods can provide symptom relief if attempted for several weeks or months, though they won’t work for everyone.
If you’ve followed you doctor’s recommendations and your symptoms have persisted, you may want to consider minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care. We offer outpatient decompression and stabilization procedures that can treat a bone spur in the neck as well as other degenerative spinal conditions.