Bone spurs in the neck, also referred to as cervical osteophytes, are tiny calcified formations that can irritate nearby structures and cause inflammation or pain. Sometimes these formations are asymptomatic, and many people are unaware that they are dealing with them, while other spurs are so painful they limit neck movement. Here’s a closer look at why cervical bone spurs develop and how they are treated.
Causes and Symptoms of Cervical Osteophytes
Bone spurs can develops in any joint of the body, and the neck is a common place for them to develop due to natural degeneration. Your bones are constantly regenerating, similar to how your fingernails grow. However, inflamed or damaged tissues can influence bone growth in the area, which can lead to the formation of bone spurs. In the neck, bone spurs develop when ligaments and tendons around the bones are damaged or inflamed, interrupting healthy bone growth. Bone spurs are also common in individuals who suffer from cervical osteoarthritis, or who have suffered acute trauma to the neck.
- Tingling sensation
- Neck weakness
- Localized or radiating pain
- Limited range of motion in the neck
It’s also important to know that the bone spurs in themselves are not painful, it’s the rubbing or compression of other nerves and structures that leads to pain and symptoms.
Diagnosing and Treating Cervical Bone Spurs
Oftentimes bone spurs are found when a doctor is conducting an X-ray for another condition, but as we mentioned above, since a lot of bone spurs don’t cause symptoms, they don’t require any treatment. However, if you are experiencing some of the above symptoms, your doctor will begin by asking about your symptoms and conducting a physical examination of your neck to see which movements reproduce symptoms. From there, they will likely confirm their suspicions with imaging tests like an X-ray. If bone spurs are severe, an MRI can help reveal damage to surrounding soft tissues.
If you’ve been diagnosed with bone spurs, your spine specialist will likely suggest some conservative care options. For many individuals, a combination of some of the following treatment options typically results in moderate to full symptom relief. Those treatment options include: rest, activity modification, physical therapy, ice/heat therapy, Anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections or chiropractic manipulation.
Minnesota Neck Surgery
Surgery is rarely needed to treat cervical osteophytes, however, surgery may be performed if they are damaging crucial structures or endangering the spinal cord. During the procedure, your doctor will work to decompress the affected area by removing the problematic bone spurs. After the procedure, you will be advised to follow some of the conservative treatment option methods, as these can also help prevent the bone spurs from recurring.