Back or neck pain is the most common sign of bone spurs. The joint becomes inflamed (swollen and tender) and the back muscles become tender.
Common symptoms are:
- Burning or tingling (pins and needles in the hands or feet)
- Dull pain in the neck or lower back when the person stands or walks
- Loss of coordination in a part of the body
- Muscle spasms or cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Radiating pain in the buttocks and thighs (if the affected bone is in the back or lower back)
- Radiating pain into the shoulders or headaches (if the affected bone is in the neck)
Activity tends to make the pain worse. Rest tends to make it better. If the symptoms affect the back, the person may feel better leaning forward and bend at the waist as in leaning over a shopping cart or cane.
If there is severe pressure on the nerves, a person may have problems controlling his or her bladder or bowels.
Causes and Risk Factors
There is a variety of factors that contribute to bone spurs. These include:
- Aging. As our discs wear down, ligaments get looser and don't hold the joints as stable as they should. The body tries to thicken the ligaments to hold the bones together. Over time, the thickened ligaments start forming flecks of bone. The thickened ligaments and new bone around the spinal cord and the nerve roots cause pressure.
- Disc and joint degeneration
- Injuries, including sports-related and motor vehicle accidents
- Poor posture
- Structural problems that a person is born with
In addition, certain conditions can make it more likely that bone spurs will develop, including:
- Spinal stenosis
In persons 60 and older, bone spurs are common. Only a little more than 40% of the population will develop symptoms that require medical treatment as a result of bone spurs.