Feelings of pain, tingling, throbbing or stiffness in the spine can often be related spinal bone spurs, or osteophytes. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may be wondering if bone spurs are the underlying cause and what course of action you should take if so. Spinal bone spurs are bony growths in facet joints or on vertebrae that can form when joint cartilage or spinal discs begin to deteriorate. Bone spurs are not always painful but can cause symptoms if they grind against other bone they come into contact with or nearby spinal nerves. Common causes are degenerative disc disease, facet disease, aging, genetics, injury and poor posture.
Diagnostic tests for bone spurs
If you visit your primary care doctor because you feel that you could have spinal bone spurs, he or she can conduct a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis:
- Review of symptoms. The location, frequency, severity and nature of your discomfort are noted by the doctor.
- Physical examination. The doctor does a hands-on evaluation of the spine and looks for areas of inflammation, tenderness or deformity.
- Radiograph. An X-ray that produces a cross-sectional image used to view the density and composition of bodily tissues.
- MRI. Magnetic resonance imaging is radiation-free and uses magnetic radio frequency fields to construct an image of the body.
- CT scan. Computed tomography uses a series of 2-D X-rays to create a 3-D image.
Conservative treatments like pain medication, physical therapy or rest are typically first recommended after bone spurs are diagnosed as the underlying source of symptoms. However, by taking steps to manage symptoms, improve range of motion and promote long-term spine health, many patients are able to find the relief necessary for a good quality of life. If weeks or months of treatment prove ineffective and your doctor suggests that you consider surgery, you should take the time to fully explore your options. For example, people exploring the possibility of spine surgery don’t always realize that a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery to remove bone spurs is not the only option.
As a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures,^ USA Spine Care performs minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that uses muscle-sparing techniques. To find out more, contact USA Spine Care today.
We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.
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