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Health and Fitness

Broad-Based Disc Osteophyte Complex

Did you know and getting old, osteoarthritis, trauma, overweight, and overuse injuries can cause weakening of the spinal cord? So, at this point, your body generates extra bony nodules regarded as an osteophyte or bone spur to support the structural integrity of your backbone or restrict its mobility. Disc osteophyte complex is the development of bone spurs on spinal vertebrae. Hence, this article will discuss the broad-based disc osteophyte complex.

These spurs develop naturally in your musculoskeletal system due to everyday wear and tear, but sometimes these growths are painless. However, when the osteophytes rub with the nerves, you will likely experience several episodes of uncomfortable and painful symptoms.

What are the Causes of Disc Osteophyte Complex?

As mentioned above, most of the time, osteophytes occur due to spinal wear and tear, aging, arthritis, and vertebral stenosis. Experts believe that the formation of osteophytes is the body’s effort to heal itself, and degenerative fluctuations can easily trigger it.

How Does Osteophyte Cause Neural Compression?

You know that a protective column encapsulated your spinal canal. The vertebrae divide into flexible and cartilaginous discs. The role of the intervertebral discs is as follows:

  • It shields the spinal column.
  • It acts as a shock absorber between vertebrae.
  • Support flexion movement of the backbone.
  • It can work as a ligament or connective element among bones.

So, the disc osteophyte complex occurs when a series of bone spurs appear on multiple spines. And compress the intervertebral discs and place stress on the nerve roots and spinal canal. As the spurs develop around the foramen, they cause spinal stenosis or Dorsalgia.  

What are the Symptoms of Disc Osteophyte Complex?

If you suffer from spinal osteophytes, you will likely feel spinal pain as the spurs rub across your vertebrae or affect the nerve roots. Therefore, you may experience discomfort and limited range of motion. Other symptoms due to neural compression include confined pain, or pain that extends to extremities, emotionlessness, prickling, or a pins-and-needles feeling.

Spinal Osteophytes

However, spinal osteophytes are likely to cause different signs according to their position. For instance, cervical spurs develop in your neck region and may trigger headaches, neck pain, neck stiffness, impassiveness, burning sensation in arms, and bone weakness.

Thoracic Osteophytes

Though thoracic osteophytes or mid-back spurs are infrequent but still exist; hence, the thoracic spurs signs might appear in apparently discrete regions of the body. However, most patients may undergo focal pain, radiculopathy, upper to mid-back pain, and restricted flexibility of the thoracic vertebral column.

Lumbar Osteophytes

Did you know that osteophytes can also impact your lumbar spinal cord? So, in this condition, you are likely to experience radiating pain in your legs and feet. Besides, suppose you have developed spurs in your lumbar spine. In that case, you may also experience limited backbone movement, backbone stiffness, aggravating pain with strenuous physical activity, blistering pain that travels down to thighs and bottoms, a tingling sensation in the legs, and muscle weakness.

Can Osteophyte Development Lead to Paralysis?

The cervical osteophytes are independent vocal fold paralysis and dysphagia. So, any procedure engrossing either the valgus nerve, its persistent laryngeal branch, or external branch may trigger paralysis of the vocal fold. Therefore, the most prevalent cause is neoplasm.

Disc osteophyte bar identifies any disc protrusion or marginal endplate osteophyte through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). It may cause contraction of the cervical canal. So, while performing MRI to distinguish between disc and osteophyte, experts developed this term. The reason is that it is simply impossible to differentiate on T2 weighted images.

How to Diagnose Disc Osteophyte Complex?

Your physician will ask some questions associated with osteoarthritis and your family history to diagnose this spinal issue. After inquiring about complete medical history, your physician will carefully examine your backbone to identify any regions of swelling and tenderness. Doctors can determine through palpation.

However, if your consultant doubts osteophyte, they are likely to recommend imaging tests like x-rays and MRI scans. The test illustrations will enable your physician to closely examine the internal body structures and validate the presence of spurs that are disturbing your spinal nerves.

What is the Treatment?

After your doctor has validated the diagnosis, they might recommend conventional and non-surgical treatments. So, during the initial course of treatment, your physician is likely to recommend a combination of treatments that may encompass physiotherapy, intake of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or corticosteroid jabs.

However, if your symptoms worsen (after persisting for more than three months), your physician is likely to recommend surgical treatment. The best surgical treatments for this spinal issue include foraminotomy, laminectomy, and resection of osteophytes. Before that, the only surgical treatment for bone spurs was an open vertebral surgery that customarily entailed hospitalization and prolonged recovery time.

Is Osteophyte Another Name for Herniated Disc?

When you develop spinal osteophytes, it appears to be a protruded ridge comprising of chronically protruding disc sheathed with bony hypertrophy and granulation or scar tissue. However, it is pretty distinct from focal or complete disc herniation as it is less common in the cervical spine.

The next question is that whether doctors can easily remove cervical osteophytes? So, most cervical spurs develop in the neck region without any symptoms, hence demand no treatment. Though there are many initial non-surgical procedures to treat symptomatic osteophytes, however, if the symptoms continue, your doctor may consider surgical treatments.

How Doctors Identify Osteophytes?

Experts use thin gradient imageries to differentiate between discs (appear bright) and osteophytes (appear dark). However, a consensus reveals that we should avoid using these terms as differentiation is valuable for surgical procedures.

While others suggest that this term is quite useful, it is pretty challenging when encountered with a dark band of tissue outspreading along the posterior side of the spinal disc. Therefore, it helps differentiate between several disc degeneration constituents like:

  • minor osteophyte
  • protruding annular fibers
  • disc herniation
  • Posterior longitudinal tendon ossification 

However, when T2 disc bulging is not visible, it is not evident what contributes to this spinal issue.


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