A bone spur, or osteophyte, is a small, rounded growth that forms on bones. Bone spurs often develop on or near joints, including spinal joints, when joint cartilage wears away and allows bone-on-bone contact. This contact results in friction that prompts the body to respond by growing extra bone tissue. Many people develop bone spurs over the course of their lives but because they don’t always present symptoms they often go unnoticed. In certain cases, a bone spur can interfere with surrounding nerves and other tissues. Nerve compression problems are often seen with spinal bone spurs due to the density of nerve tissue in the spinal column.
In many cases, bone spurs are part of the normal aging process, meaning it’s not possible to completely prevent their development. But there are some steps you can take to reduce the odds of developing this potentially painful condition.
1. Eat a healthy diet
First, you want to be sure that your bones are as strong and healthy as possible. Eating a diet that is nutritionally balanced and rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D3 and calcium, can improve your overall well-being, including the health of your bones and joints.
2. Get regular exercise
Exercise is beneficial for so many reasons, from stretching and building your muscles to helping reduce excess body weight. Being overweight increases the pressure on joints — including those in the spine. That means shedding extra pounds can relieve joint stress and potentially slow the deterioration of joint cartilage. Keeping the cartilage intact is essential to reducing the risk of bone spur growth.
3. Avoid high-impact sports
Not all exercises are equal when it comes to preventing bone spur growth, however. High-impact sports like football and those that involve repetitive, strenuous motion — think of a baseball pitcher’s throwing motion or a golfer’s swing — can damage joints in several ways, including wearing away cartilage more quickly than what natural deterioration would cause. That can lead to the development of a bone spur. Instead, consider walking, swimming, using an elliptical machine, or other forms of low-impact exercise that are less likely to strain your joints.
Treating bone spurs
Upon diagnosing this condition, most doctors will treat any related bone spur symptoms with a course of conservative treatments, including medication, physical therapy and therapeutic massage along with the above healthy lifestyle recommendations. A consultation with a surgical specialist may be recommended if weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring the relief you need for an improved quality of life.
USA Spine Care has been able to help more than 60,000 patients since 2005 with minimally invasive spine surgery that treats degenerative spine conditions, including bone spurs. These outpatient procedures offer less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery.^
Learn more by speaking with one of our dedicated Spine Care Consultants today. We offer a no-cost MRI review* that can determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.