Bone Spur Surgery

by Dr. David Kramer

As bone spurs are common throughout the spine in most individuals beyond the age of 40, it can often be difficult to determine which bone spur or osteophyte is contributing to the nerve compression. A second opinion may help to ensure that the radiographic findings do in fact correlate with your neurological complaints.

 

The term “bone spur” refers to a bony overgrowth that typically arises along one or both sides of a joint.  As there are many joints at every level throughout the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, it is not surprising that the spinal column is subject to extensive development of such bone spurs.  On some level, the development of a bone spur may represent the body’s defensive response to a degenerating joint.  In a joint whose cartilaginous surfaces are breaking down, subtle instability may develop.  With bone being living tissue, the stress of an unstable joint results in rbone spurseactive adjacent bone growth as the body attempts to increase surface area contact within a degenerating joint to restore stability.  These enlarging bone spurs, or osteophytes, can begin to encroach upon those spaces through which nerves must pass.  As a result, a nerve may get pinched as it passes through a degenerated portion of the spine where bone spurs narrow the holes or foramen, through which the nerves pass.  Bone spur surgery is a general term used to describe a very directed and limited surgical approach to decompress a nerve that is being compressed by such a bone spur.  As bone spurs are common throughout the spine in most individuals beyond the age of 40, it can often be difficult to determine which bone spur or osteophyte is contributing to the nerve compression.  A thorough history of the specific radiating nerve complaints, in conjunction with a directed neurological exam, is essential.  Correlating the results of imaging studies including MRI, CT scan, and x-ray with the findings based on history and physical exam are critical if surgery is to be successful.  A second opinion may help to ensure that the radiographic findings do in fact correlate with your neurological complaints.

Dr. David Kramer

About Dr. David Kramer

Director of the Western Connecticut Health Network Spine Center since 2005, and with over 16 years in practice as a specialist in complex spinal surgery, Dr. Kramer conducts his spine practice at Connecticut Neck and Back Specialists in Danbury, Connecticut. He has been certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons since 1998. After earning his bachelors... Read More »