What are Osteophytes?
Osteophytes, or bone spurs, are growths that form on the joints in the spine as a result of degenerative changes. Bone spurs are actually smooth growths that do not always cause pain, but in severe cases, they can compress nerves and cause neurological symptoms. The term “bone spurs” is really a bit of a misnomer, as the word “spurs” implies that these bony growths are spurring or poking some part of the spinal anatomy and causing pain. However, contrary to this implication, bone spurs are in fact smooth structures that form over a prolonged period of time.
Osteophytes represent an enlargement of the normal bony structure. Basically, osteophytes are a radiographic marker of spinal degeneration (aging), which means that they show up on X-rays or MRI scans and are by and large a normal finding as we age. Over the age of 60, bone spurs on the spine are actually quite common.
What Causes Osteophytes?
Joint damage from osteoarthritis is the most common cause of bone spurs. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones, your body attempts to repair the loss by creating bone spurs near the damaged area.
Osteophytes and Artificial Disc Replacement
The surgeons at ONZ Spine are experienced and meticulous while using fluoroscopic and microscopic imaging technology for accurate removal of osteophytes during Artificial Disc Replacement surgery. During surgery, our surgeons check the foramen and spinal canal to ensure that they are free of all osteophytes and residual fragments and debris. We also try to use the largest artificial disc footprint (circumference of the endplates of the artificial disc) available which will help prevent osteophytes from forming around the implant in the future.