As we get older, the discs and the joints of our spines and other bony structures undergo changes; some of these changes are degenerative in nature. While degeneration occurs even in the healthiest of people, it can be encouraged by a number of things such as poor nutrition, an injury, or bad posture.
Bone spurs are additional bone material, or overgrowths, and have been attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Also called osteophytes, bone spurs are manufactured by your body in response to a breakdown in existing bony structures. Sometimes, bone spurs can exert pressure on nerves, and this leads to pain.
In people with arthritis, for example, bone spurs develop in the joint or disc spaces, where cartilage has begun to break down or deteriorate. Bone spurs sometimes block the spaces where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
Bone spurs in the spine can be particularly painful. One area where bone spurs seem to be prevalent is in the disc spaces between vertebrae. As the discs and their attached ligaments begin to wear down, the body begins to thicken the ligaments. Over time, the ligaments can calcify and shed small fragments. The presence of this additional material in the spine can cause compression and pain.
Many of us can develop bone spurs in one part of our body or another, and not even know they exist. Some of us, however, are not so fortunate. Osteophytes can cause pain in the neck and back, as well as radiating type pains through the extremities such as the arms and legs.