Spinal bone spurs aren’t always symptomatic, although they can cause significant discomfort if they compress a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord. These small, smooth calcium deposits (also known as osteophytes) are typically produced by the body in response to bone-on-bone friction, as can occur when the cartilage between the joints wears away as a result of osteoarthritis. Bone spurs can also be caused by traumatic injuries, degenerative disc disease and the natural aging process.
If a bone spur pinches a nerve root or the spinal cord, it can cause severe pain at the site of the compression, and it can also cause pain that travels along the path of the affected nerve. For instance, nerve root compression in the neck can cause tingling, numbness and radiating pain in the arms and hands, while nerve root compression in the lower back can cause the same symptoms in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet.
Conservative therapies for bone spurs
In many cases, the symptoms of bone spur-related nerve root or spinal cord compression can be managed through nonsurgical therapies, such as medications and physical therapy. Corticosteroid injections, stretching and exercise can also help, as can alternative therapies such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage. Specifically avoiding pain-inducing activities, such as repetitive bending, twisting or standing for an extended period of time, can also help patients deal with the pain caused by spinal bone spurs.
While often beneficial, conservative therapies are solely intended for symptom control. Unlike surgery, nonsurgical therapies do not actually treat the bone spur or alleviate the compression. For this reason, if nonsurgical treatments do not adequately reduce a patient’s symptoms, surgery might be recommended.
Surgical bone spur treatment
There are several forms of surgery that can be used to treat spinal bone spurs. These include:
- Facet thermal ablation
At USA Spine Care, we perform these procedures using minimally invasive muscle-sparing techniques. As a result, our bone spur surgeries have no lengthy recovery periods, and patients are up and walking on the same day as their procedure.
If you’ve been dealing with severe bone spur symptoms and aren’t finding the relief you need from conservative treatment, contact USA Spine Care to learn more about your surgical options.