I've had osteoarthritis and bulging discs in my lower back for yrs, but noe an x-ray showed bone spurs. We're going to do an MRI, but is the only treatment for this surgery and what can happen if I don't have it. I've been on pain meds for a long time, and I'm not scared of surgery, (I had a craini 13yrs ago for a meningioma and many other surgery's) it's just the recovery and time i don't want to deal with. At least until sept?
Do you have an increase in pain? With a couple exceptions, no issue in the lumbar spine requires immediate attention. When a nerve is badly compressed, it is usually not a good idea to leave it in that state. If there is bowel or bladder involvement, (like sudden loss of control, incontinence, etc.) then it would be considered a medical emergency and the patient should seek medical attention immediately.
Bone spurs in and of themselves are not necessarily a big deal. It is a further sign of arthritic and degenerative changes in the lumbar spine. This can cause instability of a spinal segment, which can result in nerve compression, or the bone spur itself can encroach upon a foraminal opening and cause a stenotic situation...which results in nerve compression. A common cause of a bone spur is caused by inflammation of the ligament that surrounds a degenerating disc between the vertebrae.
Do you have pain radiating down through your hip, leg and or foot?
Probably it is just a matter of whether you can tolerate the pain, and for how long. Physical therapy might help in this regard, or perhaps there are some other conservative treatments that could help you.
The pain is getting worse and sometimes goes down my leg. I've know I've had bulging discs since the mid 90's, but there are times now when I can't walk and am in tears. And I've been on narcotic pain meds for years now. Can the bone spurs move and hit my spinal cord?
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.