Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are projections that form along the edge of bones, frequently occurring in the neck and shoulders, often in people with osteoarthritis. Bone spurs also can be found in aging people who don't have osteoarthritis. Symptoms of bone spurs in the neck include shoulder pain, pain when moving your neck and difficulty swallowing. Depending on the neck pain and discomfort your bone spurs are causing, your doctor may choose surgery to remove the spurs, or she may treat your bone spurs with other methods.
Determine if you have bone spurs. A doctor can see if you have bone spurs by giving you a neck x-ray. Bone spurs also appear on MRI scans and are often detected when looking for another problem.
Take NSAIDs, if they are prescribed to you. An NSAID, also known as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, will ease the pain of neck bone spurs and help you manage the pain while you are waiting for your bone spurs to be removed.
Get corticosteroid injections. Your doctor can inject corticosteroids in the painful areas of your neck to help prevent bone spur pain from debilitating you while you prepare for your upcoming operation. If the pain can be managed using only corticosteroid injections, your doctor may have you come back for regular injections.
Determine if you need any other operation on your neck. If you suffer from arthritis or nerve damage in your neck, you may need to undergo an operation for that condition and can get your bone spurs removed at the same time.
Get arthroscopic or open-procedure bone spur surgery. Depending on how many bone spurs you have and how difficult they will be to remove, your doctor will recommend either open surgery, in which your neck will be opened surgically to remove the bone spurs, or arthroscopic surgery, in which a tube and a small camera will be inserted into a small incision in the neck to remove the spurs.
Recovery for arthroscopic surgery is usually shorter than open-procedure surgery.