Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 5, 2016
Osteophytes – the medical term for bone spurs – are a somewhat common development in a person’s spine after their bones have experienced significant wear and tear over the years. The lumbar spine is a common place for bone spurs to develop because the discs in your lower spine act as stress absorbers, and they eventually start to wear down over decades of use. Eventually the ligaments in the area begin to calcify, leading to bone developments called osteophytes. These bony deposits can rub against other structures, causing pain, discomfort and inflammation. Today, we explain how to treat bone spurs in your spine.
Treating Lumbar Bone Spurs
Lumbar bone spurs are more common in older populations, but that doesn’t mean younger people can’t be felled by the condition. Here are some symptoms that may signal you’re suffering from bone spurs in your lumbar spine:
- Regionalized pain
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Shooting pain with movement
- Loss of range of motion in the lower spine
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
Although these are the common symptoms associated with bone spur development, the symptoms are similar to other spinal conditions, like a pinched nerve, arthritis, bulging discs or nerve problems, so it’s important to head to a doctor’s office to get to the bottom of your spine pain.
Treating lumbar bone spurs starts with an accurate diagnosis. The spine specialist will do this by conducting a physical exam, checking your medical history and asking about your symptoms. If the doctor believes that bone spurs or another spinal condition are the source of your pain, they’ll seek to confirm the diagnosis with the assistance of imaging tests that could include an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
Bone Spur Treatment Options
If you’ve been diagnosed with bone spurs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to undergo surgery to remove them. Odds are you’ll begin with some conservative treatments, and progress to surgery if those methods fail. Here’s a look at some treatment options:
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications – Bone spurs can cause inflammation, so while anti-inflammatories don’t do much to treat the root cause, they can help provide relief from bone spurs.
- Physical Therapy/Exercise – Physical therapy and exercise work by increasing flexibility and strength in the area to protect against further bone spur development and to free nerves that may be irritated by the spurs.
- Epidural Steroid Injections – These injections are helpful because they work to reduce swelling and inflammation in the lumbar spine, leading to decreased pain levels.
- Laminectomy – This surgical operation will permanently remove the spurs and alleviate any nerve compression. This procedure has a high success rate, but is typically only pursued if conservative options don’t provide relief.