Bone Spur in the Neck – Symptoms and Treatment
When you hear the term bone spur in the neck it is only natural to think that it would be similar to that of a spur on a cowboy boot. This is not the case; a bone spur in the neck is actually a smooth growth that has developed over an extended period of time. For a bone spur in the neck to become painful and symptomatic it must actually narrow the opening of the foramen to the point that pressure is applied to the exiting nerve.
What Causes a Bone Spur in the Neck?
Bone spurs in the neck form as a response to another disease or condition, most commonly osteoarthritis. The body’s natural healing mechanism attempts to replace cartilage that has broken down in the joints with bony growths. Bone spurs in the neck may also form in response to pressure, friction, or stress over an extended period of time.
Cervical spinal stenosis, cervical spondylosis, cervical joint degeneration, injuries, poor nutrition, excessive weight problems, poor posture, and birth defects may also lead to formation of bone spurs in the neck.
Neck Bone Spur Symptoms
Neck bone spur symptoms usually present themselves as neural complications. Muscle spasms, muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, pain in and around the shoulder area, and headaches are common complaints of patients with a bone spur in the neck. The patient will experience increased pain when participating in physical activities, but feel reduced pain while resting.
Joint stiffness can occur as a result of a bone spur in the neck when the spur itself separates from the larger bone and becomes lodged in the lining of the joint. As the bone spur moves in and out of the joint lining the joint itself may lock in place.
How a Bone Spur in the Neck Is Diagnosed
Diagnosis of a bone spur in the neck is usually performed with the use of a MRI, electroconductivity tests, a CT scan, or an X-ray. Conductivity tests are performed to assess how much damage has been done to the affected nerve. X-Ray testing is usually a final option as it is not very effective; the physician needs to be specifically looking for a bone spur in the neck to find positive results.
Along with the above mentioned testing, the medical history of the patient will be looked at to rule out other potential conditions that show similar symptoms.
Neck Bone Spur Treatment Methods
Unless it is a medical emergency, neck bone spur treatment begins with conservative methods. When you visit your doctor, he or she will likely recommend one of the following neck bone spur treatments:
- Reduction of activities that cause you pain
- Anti-inflammatory medications (most often over-the-counter NSAIDS, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Specific stretches and exercises for your neck
- Cold compress to further help reduce inflammation
When used to treat neck bone spur symptoms, the above methods work quite well to combat the pain and make it more manageable. If the above treatment methods fail to provide the patient with any significant relief; surgery may be a recommended option. A surgical procedure can be performed to remove the bone spur that is causing the patient pain.