Hypertrophic bone spurs, or osteophytes, are smooth growths on the vertebrae that occur with aging and spinal degeneration, according to Spine-Health. Bone spurs are a natural occurrence in most people over the age of 60 and do not cause pain unless they interfere with other spinal structures.
Degenerative changes to the spine begin in early adulthood but do not usually cause clinical symptoms until a person is in his 60s or 70s, explains Spine-Health. Age, injury or poor posture may contribute to damage to the spinal bones or joints. In the aging spine, ligaments loosen, thicken and calcify, which results in the formation of bone spurs.
A spur that intrudes into the spinal canal can narrow the space and pinch nerve roots, producing weakness or a numb feeling in the arms or legs, Mayo Clinic states. A bone spur can also break off and float as a loose body or become embedded in the joint, which results in the feeling that the joint is locked and immovable.
Bone spurs are usually treatable with non-prescription pain relievers. If an osteophyte limits range of motion or causes nerve impingement, surgery may be required, says Mayo Clinic. Any pain resulting from a bone spur tends to worsen with activity and is relieved by rest, according to Cedars-Sinai.