Bone spurs

Bone Spurs

Often referred to as osteophytes, bone spurs are benign, atypical growths of bone that develop along the spine. These are usually smooth, sharp and rounded protrusions, and, in most cases, they form in and around joints, where bones meet and connect.

When the body senses that a joint is inflamed, cells deposit extra bone in the area to compensate for lost bone mass or cartilage. This defense mechanism often backfires by creating harmful bone spurs instead of new, beneficial bone.

Although most bone spurs don’t cause pain, these can place additional pressure on surrounding bones and soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, and sensitive nerves. Bone spurs can also begin to interfere with nearby systems, which can cause debilitating symptoms to follow. The upper, middle and lower spine, hip, knee, shoulder, heel, jaw, foot, toes, hands, and wrists are regions commonly affected by bone spurs.

 Bone Spurs

Bone Spurs: Causes

Bone spurs commonly develop because of continued strain on a joint or the rubbing of one bone against another due to a lack of protective cartilage. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of bone spurs. As this disease breaks down the cartilage around your bones, the body attempts to repair itself by depositing additional bone in the affected area. Excess bone accumulates, thus providing the development of bone spurs.

There are a number of factors can cause or exacerbate bone spurs besides osteoarthritis, these include:

  • Inflammation surrounding a degenerative disc in the vertebrae
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bone breaks or fractures
  • Aging
  • Being overweight
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Improper posture
  • Misalignment
  • Poor footwear
  • Sports injuries and other accidents
  • Malnutrition
  • Joint damage
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Congenital conditions

If you believe you may be at risk of developing bone spurs, talk to your doctor about ways to prevent it and maintaining healthy joints. Living a balanced lifestyle, stretching, staying active and physically fit, keeping a proper posture, and exercising caution when lifting heavy objects or participating in strenuous activities may help you avoid experiencing bone spurs and other joint-related difficulties.

Bone Spurs: Symptoms

Symptoms associated with a bone spur may develop gradually or appear suddenly. Pain usually intensifies with physical activity and becomes more chronic over time. The following complications may indicate the presence of bone spurs:

  • Pinched nerves in the spine (radiculopathy)
  • Back or neck pain
  • Spinal cord compression (myelopathy)
  • Torn tendons or ligaments
  • Dull pain that becomes worse when standing or walking
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Problems with balance
  • Radiating pain
  • A limited range of motion or difficulty extending limbs
  • Localized swelling, tenderness or redness
  • Joints that appear knobby
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Tendonitis (the inflammation of the rotator cuff in the shoulder)
  • Numbness and tingling sensations
  • Weakness throughout the arms and legs resulting from an aggravated nerve root
  • Mild or severe pain throughout the affected area and associated extremities

As a patient, receiving timely treatment is key to preventing further joint damage. In addition, the symptoms typically attributed to bone spurs can also be evidence of dangerous medical conditions, such as cancer and high blood pressure. If you believe you may be suffering from bone spurs, seek medical attention so you can achieve optimal healing and avoid other complications. If you or a loved one is experiencing bowel or bladder control problems, please call 911 immediately as this may signify a life-threatening medical emergency.

Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort associated with bone spurs. Our team of skilled spinal experts at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® helps patients find safe and compassionate solutions to this condition.

During your initial consult, one of our experienced surgeons will carefully evaluate your medical history and physical state to obtain a clear and comprehensive diagnosis. If there is a chance you are suffering from bone spurs, your doctor may request X-rays or other imaging tests to confirm their presence. Based upon this information, we will recommend treatment options specially designed for your needs.

Additionally, conservative treatments such as: professional massages, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, alternating hot and cold treatments, cortisone injections, over-the-counter pain relievers, and other medications can sometimes help manage the pain associated with bone spurs. If a bone spur is causing symptoms, however, it usually needs to be removed through surgery.

Our acclaimed surgeons offer a number of traditional open surgeries and minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures to remove bone spurs. When compared with open operations, minimally invasive surgeries typically yield a variety of benefits such as:

  • Less pain associated with the procedure
  • Faster recovery times that allow patients to return to their daily life faster
  • A reduced risk of scarring, trauma to surrounding tissues, and high volumes of blood loss
  • Fewer potential post-surgery complications

A minimally invasive bone spur removal is performed through tiny incisions. Important muscles surrounding the spine are left unharmed, which allows the patient to make a full recovery quickly. While recovery times do vary, most men and women are cleared to return to their everyday activities within days or weeks. Full physical activities can sometimes be resumed in as little as a month, though this can vary depending on your unique situation. In order to maximize the positive effects of your surgery, your doctor will discuss different strategies with you before any surgery is performed.

Depending on the preferences of the patient, as well as determining factors such as obesity, the presence of adhesions (scar tissue), and past surgeries, the surgical approach to be used will vary. While conservative treatments can help in the alleviation of minor ailments, the surgical removal of bone spurs often provides definitive and final relief for patients.

About Us

The first in Texas to perform micro-endoscopic laser spine surgery with an incision as small as 3 mm, Dr. Won advises multiple international spine technology companies and has helped design many groundbreaking tools for the minimally invasive spine surgery industry.

Dr. Won also innovated the Pain Mapping procedures, this diagnostic study helps to pin point the pain generator so that we can provide the least invasive spine procedures, LuMINI.

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