In the years I’ve spent educating about health, wellness, and proper spinal hygiene, I’ve come to discover a grave misconception among the majority of my patients as well as the public at large. When speaking of degeneration, there is an incorrect perception that it’s something that occurs only in the elderly; especially where bone spurs are concerned.
A bone spur, or osteophyte, is an overgrowth of bone that is a kind of normal degenerative process. It usually grows on the edge of a joint but actually can grow on any area of the bone where prolonged high pressure is present. These sites can be found in all joints in our bodies, including the neck and shoulder, elbows, fingers, hips, heels or throughout the spine. A person with a bone spur could experience severe pain or maybe just a slight aching and in the early stages of growth might have no symptoms whatsoever. What can begin as a slight pain in the neck and shoulder might eventually lead to an interference in activities of daily living including an inability to focus, a lack of strength, or for some, impaired bodily
It’s true that in the past those suffering from bone spurs were mostly middle-aged or the elderly; however, in recent years, more and more people develop them at a younger age. With the progression of modern technology has come a variety of electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and notebooks. The younger generations frequently use these products and tend to slump forward or hang their heads down to look at the screens. These improper postures bring increased pressure to joints and if the trends continues, muscle soreness will occur as a warning sign of decreased function. For example, the cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae which support the head at a weight of around 12 pounds. If you often hang your head forward looking at a computer screen or other electronic device, pressure on the cervical spine increases, leading to impaired function and possibly eventual spurring.
Apart from frequent electronics use with improper posture, there are many other factors that increase the chances of developing bone spurs. For instance, sitting, standing or maintaining the same posture for a long period of time, or repeatedly using certain joints, may bring greater pressure and excessive strain to the joints. In turn, loss of bone and cartilage in the joints can occur, leading to bone spur growth. Therefore, in recent years, individuals with bone spurs are not only the
elderly as a number of them are found to be housewives, teachers, and workers in the financial or IT industry.
Here’s any easy way to carry out a preliminary self-examination:
- Raise your head and look upward. Do you feel pain or a protruding bone in the back of your neck?
- Notice if you lean your head forward when you sit down instead of in a straight line with your neck and shoulder.
If you find yourself having the above mentioned conditions, please seek out a chiropractor or other health care provider for a detailed examination. Sometimes self-diagnosis of spurring is not feasible under certain circumstances, depending
on the position of the growth of bone spur.
In some cases, people have spur formation for a period of time and are asymptomatic. If the spur grows on the front edge of the vertebral bodies, it would not irritate nearby nerve roots, even if it is very big or sharp; individuals wouldn’t feel any
pain in this situation. On the other hand, if it compresses and interferes with nerve roots, no matter the size, it may lead to muscle weakness, numbness, limpness, or atrophy. Doctors of chiropractic are trained to restore the misalignment of vertebrae through specific spinal adjustment techniques and can also apply other modalities to help release muscle spasm.
If the involved area is broad and severely irritative, surgical procedures may be advised. Thus, if you suspect you have symptoms of bone spurs, please do not hesitate to seek advice and treatment as soon as possible to eliminate pain and slow
the progression of bone spur formation.
Dr. Joe Steiner
Doctor of Chiropractic, Life
University College of Chiropractic