What Causes Bone Spurs on the Spine?

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ask the experts

What causes bone spurs on the spine?

Doctor's response

A bone spur is a small piece of bone that projects from the normal bone around joints. Spurs usually are caused by inflammation that stimulates formation of new bone. Examples of causes of local inflammation at the edge of joints that cause spurs are inflammation of the tendons and ligaments that attach to the bone. For example, inflammation of the ligament that surrounds a degenerating disc between the vertebrae (bony building blocks of the spine) is a very common cause of bone spurs of the spine.

Bone spurs also are common elsewhere in the body, such as at the point of attachment of the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. Inflammation of this tendon is one of the causes of heel spurs.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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Reviewed on 8/9/2017