Spinal bone spurs can cause a number of symptoms. By far, the most common sign is neck or back pain, which can result from inflamed facet joints, compressed spinal nerves or irritated muscles. Many people experience dull, localized pain while standing or walking, along with tingling sensations that travel into their arms or legs. The specific symptoms can vary based on the location of the problematic bone spurs.
Usually, the symptoms of bone spurs worsen with physical activity and improve with rest. For instance, an individual who has a bone spur in his or her lower back may feel better when leaning over a shopping cart or cane.
Rare bone spur symptoms
Depending on the location of a compressed nerve and the level of compression present, a bone spur can produce neurological symptoms, some of which can be severe. In addition to radiating pain and tingling sensations in the extremities, spinal nerve compression can cause progressive muscle weakness, which can lead to impaired mobility.
In very rare cases, bone spurs can cause potentially life-threatening symptoms. For instance, cauda equina syndrome (CES) is an uncommon but serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. CES occurs when a bundle of nerves situated at the base of the spine (the cauda equina) is severely compressed. The cauda equina, which transmits signals to control the leg muscles and provide sensation to the lower body, also controls bladder and bowel function.
The following rare symptoms of bone spurs constitute a medical emergency:
- Bladder or bowel incontinence. Bladder/bowel dysfunction, which is the primary red flag of cauda equina syndrome, may become apparent in the form of urinary retention, a need to strain in order to urinate, an unusual sensation or lack of sensation during urination, a poor urinary stream or a loss of rectal control.
- Saddle anesthesia. Cauda equina syndrome can cause a loss of sensation in the “saddle region,” which includes the groin, buttocks, genitals and upper inner thighs.
- Sharp or stabbing leg pains. Compression of the cauda equina may lead to sciatic nerve pain, which may be experienced as a sharp, hot pain that runs down the backs of the thighs and into the lower legs and feet.
Surgery for spinal bone spurs
If you are interested in learning about bone spur surgery, contact USA Spine Care. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve the symptoms of bone spurs, and our approach is often the clinically appropriate first choice because it provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery. Find out if you’re a candidate today. We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review.