What Causes Spinal Bone Spurs?

Do Herniated Discs Worsen Over Time?

If you’ve been suffering from symptoms such as pain that radiates into your shoulder and down your arm, numbness or tingling in your arm, or lower back pain along with numbness and tingling in the leg, you might have a spinal bone spur. Bone spurs, properly known as osteophytes, are the development of extra bone tissue on the edge of the bone. Unlike their name suggests, these growths are smooth projections that stick out from the bone. While they can grow anywhere in the body, they are most commonly found in the spine.

There are a number of issues that can cause spinal bone spurs to develop, with two of the most common causes being age and genetics. Here is a look at some of the other causes of spinal bone spurs, as well as an overview of how the condition is treated.

Common Causes of Spinal Bone Spurs

Many people have bone spurs and don’t even realize it. These bony outgrowths often do not present with symptoms and can remain undetected for years. However, when the spurs occur on the spine, they are more likely to cause problems as they compress nerves in the region. Common causes of bone spurs besides age or genetics include:


When an individual suffers a sports-related or accidental injury to the spine, the body will often attempt to “heal” itself by developing a bone spur to cover the injury. One of the simplest causes of a bone spur is an injury resulting from heavy lifting at work or at home. Additionally, injuries caused by repetitive movements or frequent stress on the spine can also cause these spurs, as can the progression of osteoarthritis and degeneration of the spinal discs.


Those who eat diets that consist of a lot of red meat, dairy, caffeine, and “nightshade” vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes are more likely to develop bone spurs than those who have diets that include fatty fish, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and water. Those who are obese are also at higher risk of developing spondylosis, which occurs when the spinal discs and joints wear out. 

Poor Posture and Structural Issues in the Spine

Those with poor posture or who were born with structural issues in the spine also are at increased risk of developing bone spurs. One common activity that is associated with damage to the spine is frequent cell phone use, in which the user is looking down at their phone for a long period of time, creating damage in the cervical area. Some individuals are also born with structural issues in their spine that make poor posture unavoidable and can also cause the development of bone spurs.

Can Spinal Bone Spurs Be Avoided?

Bone spurs are actually part of the normal aging process, and many older people have the condition. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing bone spurs, such as:

  • Eating a balanced diet that includes natural sources of Vitamin D and calcium.
  • Regularly exercising in order to strengthen your muscles and keep your bones healthy.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to avoid excess pressure on the spine.
  • Practicing good posture and avoiding heavy lifting or repetitive motions.

It is important to remember that even those who do all the right things for their body can still develop spinal bone spurs, and the symptoms associated with the condition can be the result of other conditions as well.

How Are Bone Spurs Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose spinal bone spurs, your doctor will want to know more about when you began experiencing the pain, the type of activity you were doing when you first noticed the pain, and whether the pain you are experiencing has gotten progressively worse with time. The doctor will also want to know more about your family history and whether any of your family members have also suffered bone spurs, as the condition can be hereditary.

What Treatment Is There for Bone Spurs?

Most bone spurs are treated through non-surgical methods, including the provision of medications to manage pain and inflammation. The patient is often prescribed extra rest and limitation of activities that can exacerbate the condition. Additionally, physical therapy has been found to help many people suffering from spinal bone spurs to find relief from the discomfort associated with the condition.

If conservative treatments fail to relieve the pain that the patient is experiencing, there are additional non-invasive procedures available, such as epidural steroid injections. If non-surgical treatments also do not eliminate the pain the patient is experiencing, or the patient is experiencing loss of coordination in their arms and legs, bone spur removal surgery can be performed. This surgery is typically highly effective in curing the condition. However, it should be noted that bone spurs can recur both in the spine, as well as in other areas of the body.

Contact OLSS If You Are Experiencing Bone Spurs

Pain and numbness are commonly suffered by those with spinal bone spurs. However, while these symptoms indicate that there is an issue in the spine, it is impossible to diagnose spinal bone spurs without a physical examination, diagnostic imaging scans, and consideration of the patient’s medical and family history. The experienced medical team at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery is eager to help you get to the bottom of these symptoms and to help you understand your treatment options.

Our team prides itself on providing minimally invasive procedures and pain treatments in order to help you to recover quickly so you can get back to your life. To begin your journey to spinal health and healing, schedule your consultation by calling (855) 853-6542 or use our online contact form.