Bone spurs in the spine is an evidence of destructive processes in the vertebrae. However, it does not always mean that this is the actual source of the patient’s back pain. Medically speaking, this disease is called osteophyte, which is an extension of a normal bone structure. Basically, osteophytes are an X-ray marker of critical processes that can be detected on an X-ray or CT scan. Unfortunately, this process is inevitable when getting older. Although over the age of 60, bone spurs are not infrequent, the treatment is still needed. To avoid this disorder, we advise you to include sports and regular check-ups in your life.
Bone Spur Causes
Over time, regular stress on the spine leads to the malfunction of the discs and tearing of the joints. With a combination of the factors such as age, traumas and poor posture, the condition becomes even worse without proper treatment. As the spine discs wear out, the stress on the ligaments increases, which leads to excessive growth of bone spurs.
Destructive changes in the tissues begin at a young age, but usually the process is very slow. It does not lead to any effect on the nervous structures or call for a treatment until a person reaches the age of 60-70 years. Factors that accelerate the critical progressing of spinal bone spurs include:
- bad habits;
- incorrect posture;
- absence of physical activities;
- hereditary conditions;
- malfunction of the internal organs.
Meanwhile, the most frequent cause of osteophytes is arthrosis of the facet joints, which often contributes to the occurrence of back pain. In this case, the treatment should be aimed at removing the primary source of the illness.
Bone Spur Symptoms
The patients often complain of lower back or neck pain and muscle spasms. This is known as a reaction to the ongoing disorder. Typical signs of bone spurs include dull aching in the back and neck, and also pain radiating to different body parts.
The symptoms, caused by spinal bone spurs, tend to worsen with exercise and disappear with rest. In case when nerves are compressed by bone spurs, the patient may feel the following:
- stinging sensations in one or both hands or feet;
- progressive soreness in one or both limbs;
- dysfunctions of the intestines and bladder in very rare cases.
The diagnostic treatment begins with a clinical examination. The specialist should first conduct a detailed neurologic test when treating bone spurs to assess the functioning of nerve roots and to identify signs of negative changes in the spinal cord. Based on the test results and complaints of the patient, the doctor of Orlando Medical center “Touch of Health” prescribes a further evaluation plan with the following methods:
- EMG allows checking the conduction along the nerve fiber, and both the degree and level of damage to such. Radiography is often prescribed primarily for the diagnostics of bone spurs in the spine. It can also detect other changes in the tissues of the spine.
- CT or MRI scans show more precise information about changes in the spine and help with the evaluation of the nerve compression.
Neuroimaging data gives the opportunity to choose the most efficient and adequate treatment tactics, both therapeutic and, if necessary, operational, depending on the final report of the examination of bone spurs.
Treatment Options for Bone Spur in the Spine
A high number of cases with spinal bone spurs may be treated therapeutically using such methods as:
- Medicaments (e.g. muscle relaxants) in a course lasting several weeks;
- Exercise therapy to restore the functions of the spine;
- Manual therapy and massage can improve the functioning of motor segments and relieve a muscle spasm;
- Epidural injections to relieve the symptoms of bone spurs;
- Physiotherapy, for example, shock wave therapy, allows to achieve good results treating bone spurs.
Surgery for a Bone Spur in the Spine
The surgical methods of treatment are used to decompress nerve structures. Removing osteophytes helps to get rid of the symptoms in most cases. But sometimes it happens that neurological sings can persist in the postoperative period, and in such cases there might be irreversible changes in the nerve fibers.
Studies have shown that age is not the main factor that determines the possibility of operational treatment. However, diseases often associated with older age, such as hypertension, heart conditions, diabetes, can increase the risk of the surgery and slow down the recovery process. These medically proven facts are taken into account in Orlando Medical Center “Touch of Health” when deciding on the efficient treatment of bone spurs in the spine. The medical staff of our clinic provides qualified medical care with a guaranteed result.
Touch of Health Medical Center
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Mark Biondi, DC
Doctor of Chiropractic
Roger Walker, DO