Bone spurs

November 12, 2012

Bone spurs

Bone spurs are a common bone growth that over half of those over the age of 60 will have. Symptoms do not always occur so it not unusual to have a bone spur without realising it.

Introduction to bone spurs

The medical name for bone spurs is osteophytes and many of the people who suffer from them will go through life without knowing so. This is because in most cases they do not produce any symptoms. Sometimes however they can result in pain or neurological symptoms. One fairly common form of bone spur is known as cervical osteophytes, which grow on one of the vertebrae of the neck.

Cervical osteophytes or neck spurs

One of the most common causes of neck bone spurs is damage or inflammation to one of the ligaments or tendons that are located around and attached to the bones and joints that make up the neck. The neck can also be called the cervical spine hence the name of these particular bone spurs being cervical osteophytes. The bones surrounding these damaged tendons and ligaments as a natural reaction begin to develop growth as a means to protect itself. As a result we end up with abnormal growth of bone where they do not belong.

One of the most common reasons that these tendons and ligament may have become damaged or inflamed in the first place is the presents of cervical osteoarthritis. This is a condition that tends to affect people as they get older and causes a degeneration of the joints in the neck. The neck contains a number of different kinds of joint including he spaces in between the discs as well as the facet joint. Other causes of bone spurs in this area include other forms of arthritis, poor posture and traumatic injury.

Symptoms of bone spurs in the neck

Despite the name bone spurs are usually rounded and smooth in shape but can vary in size. The growth of bone spurs is not painful itself but can cause pain in certain situations. For example if a bone spur begins to rub directly against another bone it can be painful or if it comes into contact with spinal nerves, the spinal cord, the vertebrae discs or blood vessels in the area it can cause neurological symptoms. Some examples of such symptoms include:

  • A dull pain in the neck

  • Stiffness in the neck

  • Headaches

  • Radiating pain located in the shoulders or arms

  • Numbing or tingling sensations in one or both arms or hands

  • Weakness in one or both hands that gets progressively worse without losing finger or hand dexterity

  • In more rare cases it is possible to experience difficulty swallowing or breathing

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