If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury, you may know all too well that the initial incident can be followed by a number of lingering complications. Bone spurs are just one of such side effects, and are not particularly uncommon with damage to the spinal discs or vertebrae. Take a moment to learn more, and discover what your options are should a bone spur develop after your accident.
What are bone spurs, exactly?
Also called “osteophytes”, bone spurs are a response by the body to physical irritation on the bone itself, often due to inflammation in the surrounding area or the degradation of the cartilage that cushions the joint. They are an excess protrusion of bone, and are grown as part of the body’s attempt to provide stability and protection to the irritated area. Diagnosis may be possible by simply palpating (touching) the region, although X-rays are also useful tools here.
Traumatic injuries can certainly lead to the development of bone spurs, as can long-standing degradation from conditions like arthritis. As underlying cartilage and other protective tissues are worn (or torn) away, bones may grind against each other or hard ligaments, stimulating the deposit of additional minerals at the site.
What can I do about bone spurs?
Bone spurs are not always problematic, and some patients will experience no particular discomfort from their own (in which case, no action is necessary). Those who do, however, will often report pain, tenderness, and/or numbness in the afflicted area, for which over-the-counter painkillers may provide some relief. There is also an ever-present risk of these tiny protrusions breaking off and becoming what doctors refer to as “loose bodies”: drifting bits of bone that can become embedded in the joint and even blocking the healthy bone from fully bending and rotating. In these instances, surgical removal of the spur is often recommended.
Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center is Georgia’s premier spinal surgery provider. Contact us online or at (404) 256-2633 for more information or to request an appointment.