Bone Spur Formations in the Neck and Back
A bone spur in your neck or back may be the reason for the pain and stiffness you have been experiencing. It may even be the explanation for the numbness, tingling (a sense of heat or pins-and-needles feeling), muscle weakness, and muscle spasms radiating into your extremities. Bone spurs can cause any of those problems, but since bone spurs are not painful in and of themselves, they can often go undetected. In fact, unless a spinal bone spur comes into contact with either the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root, symptoms may never arise.
What Exactly Is a Bone Spur?
A bone spur, or osteophyte, is essentially an excess bone growth. They can develop anywhere in the body that there is bone, including in the neck and back. They are nothing more than small formations of bone minerals and calcium that have built up on existing bones. And, contrary to what people commonly believe, bone spurs tend to be rounded and smooth rather than jagged and sharp.
Why Do Bone Spurs Form?
Bone spurs usually form as a result of excessive abnormal pressure placed on bones. Joints, where two or more bones come together and articulate, are especially susceptible to the formation of bone spurs. In the spine, bones called vertebrae articulate (move) at joints called facet joints. These joints are coated in a thin layer of cartilage that allows for smooth and fluid movement. Over time, the cartilage can wear down, allow spinal arthritis to set in, and leave exposed bone from one vertebra to rub against exposed bone from an adjacent vertebra. As a natural response to the increased pressure placed on them from excessive rubbing and grinding, the bones produce a small, smooth bony growth that we know as a bone spur.