4 things you need to know about bone spurs

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Did your physician recently tell you that you have bone spurs in your neck or back? Before you begin worrying, you should know that your diagnosis might not be as severe as it sounds. Bone spurs are extremely common and almost everyone has the condition.

 

What are bone spurs?

Many people think that bone spurs are sharp, pointy pieces of bone. You may be surprised to find that bone spurs, also called osteophytes by medical professionals, are smooth, round bumps.

Simply growing older causes most bone spurs, according to Johns Hopkins. Your spine slowly degenerates with age, causing osteoarthritis. This may cause your spine to become unstable, and spinal instability may cause the formation of bone spurs to help add stability to your back. Bone spurs may also be caused by:

  • Family history
  • Nutritional habits
  • Poor posture
  • Traumatic accident

Are bone spurs painful?

Bone spurs can be painful, but they don’t always cause pain. Typically, a bone spur causes pain when it pushes on a nerve, which can send pain throughout your body. Some symptoms associated with bone spurs are:

  • Pain that runs through your arms and legs
  • Numbness
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Pain in your neck or back

Will bone spurs go away?

While harmless, bone spurs can be painful. If you’re experiencing pain from bone spurs, conservative treatment tends to be successful in treating most bone spur symptoms. You can try adding these forms of conservative treatment to your day:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Heat or ice therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications

When should I see a doctor?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if you should see a doctor for your neck or back pain. If your pain starts impacting your everyday life, you should consider seeing your physician. They may order some tests, including an X-ray and MRI or CT scan to help determine your source of pain. Be prepared to give your physician a detailed description of what actions cause your pain.

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