Osteophytes, more commonly known as bone spurs, are smooth bony growths that typically develop near the joints of your bones. Bone spurs may form anywhere in your body where two bones meet. However, they are often found in the hands, feet, knees, and spine. Bone spurs may cause pain and lead to other health complications. While they may form at any age, they are most likely to develop as you get older. Therefore, learning how to prevent bone spurts may help you avoid problems later in life.
What Causes a Bone Spur to Form?
One of the most common causes of bone spurs is joint damage from osteoarthritis (OA). OA occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints breaks down, allowing your bones to rub against each other. This may cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In the process of your body attempting to repair the damaged cartilage, new bone growth may occur, leading to the formation of bone spurs.
Bone spurs may also occur due to degenerative disc disease or ankylosing spondylitis, a rare form of arthritis primarily affecting the spine. The best way to determine the cause of your bone spur is to visit your doctor for a diagnosis. Diagnosing a bone spur typically involves taking a medical history, physical examination, X-ray, and MRI.
What are the Symptoms of Bone Spurs?
People who have bone spurs may not experience any symptoms at all. However, if a bone spur compresses a nearby nerve or the spur rubs against another bone, the following symptoms may occur:
- Pain near the affected joint
- A reduced range of motion
- Tendon tears
Your symptoms will likely depend on the location of your bone spur. For example, bone spurs in the feet may cause pain when walking, while bone spurs on the spine may cause back or neck pain. No matter where your bone spurs are located, it is important to see your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.
How to Prevent Bone Spurs from Forming
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent bone spurs from forming. There are, however, ways you may lower your risk of developing bone spurs. Making healthy lifestyle changes is one of the best ways to prevent bone spurs. Lifestyle changes you can make to potentially prevent bone spurs include:
- Keeping a good posture
- Maintaining proper ergonomics
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Wearing comfortable and supportive shoes
- Avoiding smoking
Furthermore, injuries to the joints and bones, as well as conditions that put extra stress on your joints, may increase your risk of developing bone spurs. Stretching and strengthening the muscles and tendons around your joints may help prevent the condition. However, it is essential not to overdo it, as this may also lead to joint damage.
Ways to Treat Bone Spurs
While taking the above preventative measures may help you avoid developing bone spurs, sometimes they form regardless. If your bone spurs are causing pain or interfering with your daily activities, there are treatments available. Before surgery is considered, your doctor will likely recommend conservative treatments such as:
- Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation
- Ice and heat therapy
- Physical therapy to improve range of motion and strength
- Orthotic devices such as shoe inserts or braces
- Corticosteroid injections
If your bone spur is severe or doesn’t respond to conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the spur. Bone spur surgery is typically a last resort and is often done using minimally invasive techniques such as microdecompression surgery.
How Microdecompression Surgery is Performed
Minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression is a type of surgery used to relieve pressure on the nerves in your spine. By removing the bone spurs that are pressing on your nerves, microdecompression may help ease your pain.
During the surgery, your surgeon will use anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Once you’re asleep, your surgeon will make a small incision in your back and use a microscope or endoscope to see the affected area. Next, your surgeon will remove the bone spur using specialized instruments. Once the pressure on your nerves is relieved, your surgeon will close the incision. Bone spur surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, which means you may go home the same day. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities within a few weeks.
Treat Your Back Pain with The Spine Pro
Leaving bone spurs untreated may cause serious pain and other complications. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a bone spur, don’t wait to seek treatment. At The Spine Pro, we offer various treatment options for bone spurs and other spine conditions. To find a solution that works for you, contact us today to schedule an appointment.