Osteophytes, more commonly referred to as bone spurs, may occur on the joints of your lower spine in response to degenerative changes in your spine. Our video walk through can help you better understand this common condition.
The image below shows a disc (in red) as it's degenerating, or breaking down.
As a disc degenerates, it enables excess movement between your joints.
Your body responds to this excess movement by producing bony growths on your joints.
Above is another image of a spinal disc degenerating. The white dots in the picture are proteins that are released as your spine degenerates. It's important to note that spinal degeneration is a normal part of the aging process, but factors like poor posture, a traumatic injury, or improper nutrition can accelerate the process. Spinal osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis are two examples of degenerative diseases that can also cause bone spurs to form.
See Bone Spur Causes
The above image pictures two bone spurs located on the facet joints. Bone spurs are typically smooth, and they don't always cause pain. But, in rare cases, bone spurs can provoke neurological symptoms if they press against the nerves in your lower back.
If bone spurs form near the small holes through which nerve roots exit your spine, called foramina (pictured above), they are more likely to cause pain.
Bone spurs can lead to a variety of symptoms. For example, if a bone spur impinges on a nerve root in your lumbar spine it may cause pain, weakness, or tingling that radiates down your leg. As a general rule, pain from bone spurs usually worsens with activity and improves with rest.
Remember that symptoms from bone spurs mimic the symptoms from many other conditions, so it's important to consult with your doctor if you suspect your pain and stiffness may be the result of bone spurs.