Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
What Are Neck Bone Spurs Or Cervical Osteophytes?
Majority of people above 60 years of age tend to develop bony projections or what is termed as bone spurs/osteophytes at some part in their body, especially the spinal region. It is a normal sign of aging and is a relatively benign condition until an individual starts to develop neurological dysfunction due to it. Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are such bony projections which tend to grow in the cervical spine, anywhere between the C1 through C7 vertebrae.
How Are Neck Bone Spurs Or Cervical Osteophytes Formed?
Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are usually formed when there is some sort of damage or inflammation to the tendons or ligaments surrounding the bones and joints. This abnormally affects normal bone growth, as the bones are in the process of constant renewal, and hence there is a build up of new bone cells resulting in bone projections called Bone Spurs or Osteophytes. Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are usually caused by a medical condition called cervical osteoarthritis in which there is gradual degeneration of the joints in the neck with aging. Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes can also be caused due to trauma, arthritis, or poor neck posture.
What Are The Symptoms Of Neck Bone Spurs Or Cervical Osteophytes?
Usually, Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are not painful and if an individual experiences pain or some sort of neurological symptoms then it may be due to the bone spurs contacting the nerve roots, the spinal cord, or the blood vessels in the cervical vertebral column. Some of the common symptoms of Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are:
- Pain in the neck
- Stiffness of the neck
- Neck pain may radiate down the upper extremities
- Numbness or tingling in the upper extremities
- Progressive weakness of the upper extremities
- In rare instances there may also be observation of dysphagia.
How Are Neck Bone Spurs Or Cervical Osteophytes Diagnosed?
To diagnose Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes, the treating physician will first take a detailed history to rule out any trauma as a cause of the symptoms. The physician may also look for any history of osteoarthritis. The physician may also delve into the family history of the individual as osteoarthritis can also be genetic.
After a detailed history is taken, the treating physician will then conduct a detailed physical examination of the neck. The physician will check the range of motion of the cervical spine. The physician may also check the reflexes. The physician will palpate the cervical spine to localize the area of maximal pain and tenderness.
The treating physician will then order an x-ray of the cervical spine which if inconclusive will then order an MRI of the cervical spine to look at the internal structures of the cervical spine and will give a confirmatory diagnosis of Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes
What Are Treatments For Neck Bone Spurs Or Cervical Osteophytes?
Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are permanent growths, hence it can be best said that surgery is the only realistic approach to its cure, although there are some conservative means available for control of symptoms but the onus is on the patient to have realistic expectations from the treatment if the patient wants to avoid surgery. Some of the conservative measures for Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes are:
- Use of NSAIDs for control of pain and inflammation
- Applying ice to the affected area for about 15 minutes two to three times daily
- Low-impact exercises
- Extensive physical therapy to improve strength and endurance
- Yoga has also shown to be beneficial for controlling symptoms of Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes.
- Lifestyle modifications also go a long way in helping control symptoms of Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes like abstaining from smoking alcohol use, correcting neck posture while sitting, etc.
If the above measures fail in controlling the symptoms of Neck Bone Spurs or Cervical Osteophytes, then the only measure left is a surgical procedure to shrink the growth. Spinal fusion is one such procedure in which the affected region is immobilized permanently for pain relief. This surgery is a major surgery and requires significant time for recuperating, which may go up to months. Some recent less invasive procedures are available now in which the nerve near the affected joint is deadened so that the individual does not feel the pain. This procedure is less invasive and does not require an inpatient setting. There are also little chances of postoperative complications with such a procedure.