Bone spur

Bone spurs or osteophytes are smooth structures that form on bone over time.  They often occur as a result of general wear and tear on bones and joints but may be acerbated by injury.  Bone spurs are quite common in people over 60 years of age and they often present with few if any symptoms.  Their presence is sometimes an indication of something else going on such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis.


Most often occur in the lower back (lumbar) and neck (cervical) and symptom intensity increases with activity.

  • Dull pain in the neck or back pain when standing or walking.
  • Cervical bone spurs may cause radiating pain in the shoulders and headaches.
  • Lumbar bone spurs may cause radiating pain into the thigh and rear. This pain may be relieved when bending from the waist.
  • If a nerve is compressed it may lead to pain, numbness and progressive weakness in arms and legs.


The symptoms of a bones spur are quite generic and may be masking something else including arthritis, tumors, herniated disc, and more.  It is imperative that you get a thorough diagnosis of your condition.  Our neurosurgeon may request you have one or more of the following tests:

  • Electromyography (EMG) to assess nerve conductivity
  • X-ray
  • CT and or MRI


Often surgical treatment is not needed unless the bone spur is compressing on a nerve or the spinal cord.  Our neurosurgeons will discuss the best treatment option specifically for you.

Surgical Treatment

Content adapted from Medtronic Catalyst patient education

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