Spondylosis is a degenerative condition that affects the spine that can cause back pain. Symptoms such as pain and weakness in the back may result from pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord from advancing spondylosis. Several factors, including arthritic conditions, physical strain, and poor posture can cause spondylosis.
Spondylosis may sometimes be used to describe various degenerative conditions affecting the spine and can refer to spinal stenosis or a general term for osteoarthritis. A definitive diagnosis of spondylosis should include information about the specific form of pain being experienced.
Keep in mind, a different condition with a similar name called Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the spine and hip joints that can eventually lead to the joint of the spine fusing together. This condition should not be used interchangeably with the term spondylosis.
People sometimes inquire if spondylosis and degenerative disc disease (DDD) are synonymous, and the answer is generally “yes”. The two terms are frequently used interchangeably.
Symptoms of Spondylosis
Symptoms associated with spondylosis can differ depending on the area where the pain exists. Cervical spondylosis symptoms may include:
- Neck pain
- Mid back pain
- Strained muscles around shoulders
- Stiffness and resistance to movement
- Tingling or weakness in the shoulders, arms or hands
Lumbar spondylosis refers to pain and degeneration in the lower back. Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the back and hips, particularly in movement
- Tingling sensation down the legs
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle weakness in the lower extremities
How is Spondylosis Diagnosed?
Spondylosis can affect anyone, with an estimated 80% of people over 40 having evidence of spinal degeneration on X-rays. Symptoms usually first appear between the ages of 20 and 50. However, if symptoms present at an earlier age, a genetic factor may be involved. Previous injuries, such as whiplash from a car accident, can also increase the risk of developing spondylosis and the need for surgical intervention.
Despite its prevalence, spondylosis is primarily a result of aging, and while many people will experience it as they get older, not all will require or choose medical intervention.
Spondylosis is typically diagnosed through an evaluation of your medical history and a physical examination. Imaging tests may also be administered for a more detailed insight. A combination of the medical history, physical exam, MRI, X-ray imaging, and genetic blood markers can likely produce the best answers in determining whether your spine is being affected by spondylosis or any similar conditions.
Treatment for Spondylosis
When it comes to treating spondylosis, it’s important to know that there’s hope! The initial approach to treating spondylosis commonly involves non-invasive methods such as physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medication, and changes in lifestyle. Some have also reported improvement with supplements that support cartilage and joint health and naturally combat inflammation. For more severe and chronic cases, a physician-approved pain management plan and even surgery may be necessary, but it’s important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee of complete relief from all spondylosis symptoms.
If you’re struggling with spondylosis or a similar condition, know that you’re not alone! Consult a physician for a proper diagnosis and discuss the best treatment options for your specific case. With proper care, you can find relief and live your life to the fullest.