Whether they are in the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) or lumbar (lower) region of the spine, bone spurs can cause a number of painful problems. However, bone spurs, or osteophytes, aren’t painful by themselves, even though many people associate the word spur with something sharp or pointed. Instead, pain and other debilitating symptoms can develop if a bone spur puts pressure on a nerve in the spine.
Bone spurs are actually smooth in composition and are the body’s natural response to bone-on-bone friction. Factors that lead to their development include aging, disc degeneration, arthritis, traumatic injury, poor posture, overuse or other factors. Lumbar bone spurs form because this region of the spine must carry the weight of the upper body while remaining flexible enough for basic movement. Nerve compression in the lumbar spine by a bone spur can lead to back pain, as well as symptoms in the lower body.
Lumbar bone spur symptoms
In addition to supporting the upper body, the primary role of the spine is to protect the spinal cord as it travels from the brain to the lower body. Osteophytes cause issues when they narrow the already tight passageways that the spinal cord and branching nerve roots travel through. In addition to lower back pain, nerve compression related to a lumbar bone spur can cause the following symptoms:
- Tingling and numbness in the hips, legs and toes
- Shooting pain in the buttocks, hips and legs
- Muscle weakness
- Restricted movement and limping
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle spasms
Diagnosis and treatment of a lumbar bone spur
Talk to your physician if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and are wondering if it may be related to a lumbar bone spur. A review of your medical history, physical exam and the taking of diagnostic imagery of your spine can determine if bone spurs are to blame for symptoms. Upon diagnosis, your physician can then discuss treatment options with you. This usually begins conservatively and can include rest, exercise and medication, physical therapy or epidural steroid injections. Open back surgery is usually explored when conservative treatment is exhausted without an improvement in symptoms.
It’s important to note, however, that traditional open spine surgery for lumbar bone spurs is an invasive procedure, which can leave you with a lengthy, painful recovery process. USA Spine Care offers an alternative with our minimally invasive, state-of-the-art procedures that offer our patients a shorter recovery time^ and lower infection rate than traditional open spine procedures.
To find out if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to us today for a no-cost MRI review.*