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Lumbar Osteophytes

I was recently diagnosed with "lumbar osteophytes." What does this mean?

"Lumbar" refers to the low back area, specifically the five bones (vertebrae) in the low back. "Osteophytes" (also called bone spurs)are bony outgrowths that sometimes form around joints, including the joints in the back. These are most common with osteoarthritis.

With osteoarthritis, there is damage to the joint surface. This causes the joint space to narrow and places increased pressure on the joint surface. Osteophytes develop as a result of the joint's attempt to make new bone to replace the damaged bone. Osteophytes are actually a form of bone remodeling that goes overboard.

Osteophytes can put pressure on a nerve as it leaves the spine. Large osteophytes can press against the spinal cord. Either of these situations can lead to pain, loss of motion, numbness, weakness, and even loss of bowel and bladder function.

Early treatment for symptoms due to bone spurs includes medication and Physical Therapy. Surgery may be required for some people.