As we get older our bones and joints begin to show signs of wear and tear. The aches and pains that accompany this degeneration are a natural part of aging, but that doesn’t mean that you need to allow it to affect the quality of your life or keep you from doing the things that you enjoy. If you’ve been experiencing stiffness that keeps you from turning your head from side to side, or pain from the bottom of your neck to your head, headaches, or numbness or tingling that extends to your arms and hands, you may have bone spurs in your neck. The good news is that our New Jersey neck pain specialists have answers for this common problem.
Bone spurs are growths that are a result of injuries, degeneration, or osteoarthritis. When they occur in the neck, they may actually become noticeable as visible lumps. If they don’t bother you then there is nothing to worry about or do about them, but if they grow to the point that they put pressure on the nerves in your neck, you’re likely to feel discomfort that can interfere with your day-to-day activities, and that’s when you need to take action and seek medical care.
When patients come into our practice with this type of pain, we generally conduct a thorough physical examination, ask plenty of questions, and order X-rays or other imaging tests that can reveal bone spurs in your cervical spine, as well as other possible causes of neck pain. These may include osteoarthritis, herniated disc, or spinal stenosis. Knowing exactly what the source of the problem is will guide us as we create a personalized treatment plan.
Treatment of bone spurs often depends upon exactly how bad the discomfort is, what is seen on imaging studies, and the patient’s overall health and preferences. At our spine surgery practice in New Jersey we offer conservative treatment options first in hopes that they will address the issue. These may include rest, cold compresses to minimize pain, steroid injections, over-the-counter or prescription medications, massage, or physical therapy.
There are also exercises that you can do at home that can decrease pain, build strength, and improve your range of motion. The most popular and effective of these are called neck retractions, which involve using your fingers to create light pressure on your neck by pushing backwards on your chin while maintaining your head in a forward position. You can repeat this exercise several times up to four times a day. Attention should also be paid to your posture, and particularly to keeping your head upright and keeping it from leaning forward.
If these protocols don’t help and your discomfort continues, we may recommend minimally invasive surgery to remove spurs or address other problems that may be contributing to your pain. The first step is always to come in for a consultation with our New Jersey spine pain specialist to let us assess your situation.