Re: Bone Spurs around L4-L5
Bone spurs do not move, but they can increase in size and press on the spinal nerves as they are exiting the spine. When you have pain radiating out to your limbs, it is a sign of nerve compression. This is a common system for many who have spinal arthritis of some sort, herniated discs, and osteophytes (bone spurs). What happens is that the "gunk" that forms takes up space in the neuroforaminal openings that are supposed to be "open" so that the nerves can pass freely.
A simple way to think of this process is to think of an old lead pipe. Through the years, stuff builds up in it...and gradually the diameter of it shrinks to the point that hardly any water can get through. In the case of the foraminal openings, the nerves need to pass through, not a liquid. But the principle is the same -- before my first surgery, you could see on the MRI that there was only a pin-***** of space. Doctors who looked at it were amazed that I was even able to walk at all, as there was barely any room for the nerves, and they were so compressed.
Other than disc problems, bone spurs are the most common type of spinal problem that affects the nerves or, above the L1 level, the spinal cord itself. It is a "bump" that forms along the edge of a bone.
If you've ever seen an enlarged joint on the hands of an elderly person with arthritis, that is a bone spur, too. Bone spurs form when the parts of a joint no longer slide smoothly. This causes the joints to enlarge. In the spine this can happen with the facet joints, which are located kind of at the end of the vertebra. Bone spurs really are part and parcel of the aging process, and are hard to avoid as our spines age. They are not painful until they result in a nerve becoming pinched.