Spondylosis (from the Greek word spondulos, meaning vertebrae and the Latin/English suffix osis, meaning a process or condition) refers to the degeneration of the spine. It is also referred to as spinal osteoarthritis.
The condition can be used to describe degeneration in the neck (Cervical Spondylosis), the lower back (Lumbar Spondylosis) or the middle back (Thoracic Spondylosis).
Regardless of the specific location, Spondylosis, a chronic, degenerative condition, is closely associated with pain and the natural aging process, as it applies to the spine. It can also be caused by injury.
Spondylosis is a non-inflammatory degenerative condition that leads to the abnormal development of bone around the vertebrae and reduced mobility. The occurrence of symptoms is usually gradual and can be discerned by the incidence of tingling pain radiating down the arms and legs, limited motion and pain in the neck and upper back. The lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) spine are more frequently affected than the thoracic (middle back) spine, because curvature of the thoracic spine stops spondylosis from impinging on the spinal cord. Lumbar and cervical spondylosis have been known to frequently occur simultaneously in the same individual.
Generally, the first step is a physical exam in which the physician will test for movement and flexibility. He or she may ask you to bend your head forward and move it side to side while exerting light downward pressure on the top of your head. Increased pain or numbness during this test is usually a sign that there is pressure on a nerve in your spine.
The next step is likely to be an X-ray of the neck, which will determine if arthritis is present, then perhaps an MRI if the pain is severe and you are experiencing weakness and numbness in your arms and legs.
At The Center for Spinal Disorders, our approach is to initiate treatment using conservative methods whenever possible. That means utilizing our non operative treatments in an attempt to manage the pain.
In conjunction with medication, injections and/or bracing, it is often the case that physical therapy is prescribed, in which you can learn stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles in your neck and back. After consultation with your doctor and a physiotherapist, it may also be possible to perform most of the stretching and strengthening exercises at home.
If, however, conservative measures fail to ease or eliminate the symptoms of Spondylosis, it might be time for surgery in consultation with an expert physician. At The Center for Spinal Disorders, any treatment is determined in a personalized consultation with our expert spine surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Lewin.
Dr. Jonathan Lewin at The Center for Spinal Disorders is an experienced spine surgeon specializing in the latest techniques, including minimally invasive surgery. He is adept at individualizing care for each patient and can speak to you about Spondylosis, as well as appropriate procedures for this or any spine condition.