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About Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a term relating to different forms of age related deterioration of the spine. As people age bones, discs, cartilage, and ligaments also age and become weak and damaged. These changes are all forms of spondylosis. Since it produces weakness in the spinal joint, it can also lead to other related degenerative spinal issues like a disc herniation, nerve compression, or spondylolisthesis, a forward slippage of one vertebrae on another. The degenerative change can be asymptomatic and require no treatment. It can also cause back or neck pain, or compression of the nerves that requires surgery.

Common Symptoms of Spondylosis

Spondylosis can be asymptomatic, with symptoms being neck or back pain/stiffness, when symptoms do occur. Sometimes spondylosis leads to spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal becomes narrow and causes compression on the spinal cord or nerve roots. Some symptoms of this condition include:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Pain radiating into the arms or legs
  • Tingling/numbness in the arms, hands, legs, and/or feet
  • Weakness in arm, shoulder, legs, feet, or hand muscles
  • Coordination issues

Diagnosis of Spondylosis

If symptoms suggest that a patient has symptomatic spondylosis a doctor may order any of the following image tests:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan – shows detailed image of the spinal cord,nerves, and surrounding nerves
  • CT scan – shows detailed images of bones

If there is a concern that spondylosis has begun to compress nerve tissue in the spine, the doctor may order a test to evaluate whether the nerve signals are traveling properly to the muscles, called an EMG/Nerve Conduction Study.

Treatment Options for Spondylosis

Nonoperative measures such as physical therapy and medication are usually effective when treating spondylosis. However, if compression of the nerve has resulted from the spondylosis surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure. The type of surgery depends on the cause of the nerve compression. Some surgery options include:

  • Discectomy – removes a herniated disc
  • Laminectomy – removes burn spurs or parts of the vertebra called lamina
  • Laminoplasty – creates space for nerve tissue
  • Spinal fusion – fuses a part of the spine using transplanted bone or implants