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Bone Spurs in the Neck Area of the Spine

Hi, I am suffering from neck pain. My doctor ordered an x-ray for my neck. He said there are bone spurs but there was no need for surgery. Does that mean i have to live with my neck pain permanently? Will it get worse?" - Peter 

Hi Peter,

xAlthough your x-ray revealed bone spurs, it may not be the cause of your neck pain. There are many causes to neck pain – poor posture, muscular strain, and degenerative disc disease, just to name a few.

Many patients have gone for x-rays and been told that they have bone spurs (also known as osteophytes) in their neck or back with the implication that the spurs are the cause of their pain. However, bone spurs are simply just an indication that there is degeneration going on in the spine. They are not necessarily the actual cause of the patient's pain. Bone spurs are by and large normal findings as one age and are quite common in people over the age of 60. It is important to know what is the actual cause to your neck pain because that will impact your treatment options.

However, if your doctor has determined that the actual cause of your neck pain is from the bone spurs, you can still manage your symptoms effectively and recover from your neck pain through conservative measures without the need for surgery; this is provided that you do not have severe nerve compression resulting in unremitting pain or weakness / motor loss.

Conservative or non-surgical treatment for patients with neck pain arising from bone spurs might include:

  • Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or pain medication.

  • Cortisone Injection. Cortisone shots help reduce joint swelling and pain. The effects of these are temporary and may need to be repeated.

  • Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy, exercises and joint manipulation help restore flexibility and strength of the neck, improve posture and decrease the compression on the nerves.

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