What Causes Bone Spurs?
In our previous blog we addressed bone spurs, or osteophytes, bony growths that form on injured, damaged or diseased bones, which can impinge on adjacent bone and tissue. But what causes bone spurs? Bone spurs can occur for a variety of reasons. Often bone spurs result from a bone’s response to persistent pressure, rubbing or other stress placed on it. For example, as the protective layer of cartilage at the end of bones deteriorates over time, the bone has less shielding, and movement in the joint socket can irritate this portion of the bone, potentially leading to the formation of bone spurs. Bone spurs can also develop as a result of arthritis. Normal aging is one of the most common causes of bone spurs, particularly in the spine. Bone spurs typically form on the vertebrae as a result of degenerative changes to the spinal discs, which brings adjacent vertebrae in closer contact with one another.
Indeed, the spinal column is a common site for bone spur formation, as the vertebrae are subjected to a great deal of stress and pressures in the normal course of daily activities, which can be exacerbated by poor posture, being overweight, or having an occupation that requires heavy lifting or other physical exertion that taxes the spine. Degeneration of the spinal discs between the vertebrae can also cause bone spurs. These discs, which act something like shock absorbers between the vertebrae, gradually shrink, weaken, and lose their cushioning ability as we age. Many people over the age of 60 have bone spurs on their vertebrae, though these spurs frequently cause no discomfort or other symptoms.
Congenital conditions and hereditary diseases can also impact the formation of bone spurs, as can lifestyle, general health, eating habits, sports injuries and traumatic injuries. The good news is, leading a healthy lifestyle, maintaining proper weight, and exercising regularly, can slow the onset of age-related bone spurs, or minimize the affects of spurs that have already formed. If you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with bone spurs, or other chronic back pain, we recommend scheduling a consultation with a qualified medical specialist.