Cervical osteophyte formation occurs when bone spurs form in the seven vertebrae of the neck, according to Spine-health. These bone spurs result when the ligaments and tendons that anchor the bones are damaged or suffer inflammation.
These injured tendons and ligaments send signals to the bone around them, and as a result, new bone is formed where it usually would not be found, says Spine-health. This is especially true if the joints in the neck vertebrae, including the cushioning disks between them and the facet joints, are arthritic. This is common in older people and is called cervical spondylosis.
The bone spurs do not resemble spurs but are rounded and often have scalloped edges, explains Spine-health. They are usually asymptomatic unless they press on the spinal nerves, the blood vessels, the disks or the spinal cord. When this happens, the patient might experience such symptoms as a dull pain in the neck, a stiff neck, pain that radiates into her arms or shoulders and headaches. She may also experience weakness in her arms, hands or both, even though the weakness does not affect her ability to use her hands. Rarely, people with cervical bone spurs have trouble swallowing or breathing.
Because the symptoms of bone spurs resemble those of other conditions, it is important for cervical bone spurs to be properly diagnosed so they can be effectively treated, says Spine-health.