Vertebral spurring is the development of bone spurs on the vertebrae. Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are bony protrusions that develop along the edges of bones. Osteophytes can develop on any bone, but most often form in joints, where bones meet. Vertebral spurring occurs when the protrusions develop along the edges of the vertebrae, the individual bones that make up the spine.
Though bone spurs may cause no specific symptoms on certain bones, vertebral spurring often causes pain and discomfort. This is because the bone spurs can compress the nerves in the spine or even push against the spinal cord causing pain and numbness in other parts of the body.
As with most bone spurs, vertebral spurring is often the result of an underlying disease or condition and is commonly associated with osteoarthritis. The break down of cartilage in the joints results in the development of new bone as the body attempts to repair the loss of cartilage. This occurs as debris is collected and deposited in the surrounding fluid. Though certain diseases and conditions are known to cause bone spurs, sometimes bone spurs form on their own, especially as a person ages.
Vertebral spurring is most often diagnosed via imaging tests such as X-ray or CT scan. Though there is no specific treatment for bone spurs, doctors may treat the symptoms or may perform surgery. In cases where the spurring is causing no or minimal pain and is not interfering drastically with range of motion and movement, a doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help manage pain. If the spurring is interfering with range of motion or limiting daily activity, surgical removal of the bone spur(s) may be an option.
More typically, doctors try to treat the underlying cause of the development of bone spurs. By treating any underlying cause, further joint damage can be prevented. However, because vertebral spurring can impact the back, neck, and even other parts of the body, diagnosis and treatment may be unavoidable.