• Spondylosis is a term that is usually used to describe the wholesale deterioration of the spinal anatomy that comes with age. Other doctors also sometimes more specifically refer to the arthritic deterioration of the vertebral facet joints as spondylosis. Yet, the fact remains that this condition is aptly used to describe a condition within the spinal column that is causing the patient potentially significant pain and discomfort, which may require medical treatment.
The SpineThe anatomical elements that make up the spine are tightly packed inthe spinal column to allow for the full range of motion that we requirefrom our backs and necks. Vertebrae give the spine its shape andstrength, intervertebral discs cushion and separate the vertebrae, facetjoints connect adjacent vertebrae and allow the bones to comfortablyarticulate against one another, and a variety of soft tissue supports thespinal column. The problem, however, is that over the years, theburden of supporting much of the body’s weight while offeringconsistent flexibility can take its toll and the spinal anatomy naturallybegins to deteriorate. It is for this reason that most of us accept that aswe get older we won’t be quite as mobile as we were in our youth andaches and pains are accepted as being mostly unavoidable.Yet, while some degree of spinal deterioration is unavoidable, a selectsegment of the population may exhibit a number of frustratingsymptoms that go beyond a minor inconvenience in the daily routine.
SymptomsThe symptoms of spondylosis are varied and depend on a number of factors. Moreoften than not, the symptoms that the individual experiences occur whendegenerative changes to the spine has resulted in the compression of a nerve root orthe spinal cord. For instance, herniated intervertebral disc material or a bulged discwall in the spinal canal can cause problems. So, too, can the formation of a bone spuras a result of the onset of arthritis in the vertebral facet joints.Depending on the specific location of the problem, the severity and cause of thecondition, and the exact nerve that is constricted, a variety of different symptoms maydevelop, including:• Localized pain near the site of the issue• Radiating pain along the length of the nerve• Numbness or tingling in the extremities• Diminished reflexes• Muscle fatigue• And more
Conservative TreatmentIn order to effectively treat the symptoms ofspondylosis, a doctor must diagnose theproblem, pinpoint the origin of thesymptoms, and take into consideration thepatient’s overall health. There are a number ofpotential treatment options that may beconsidered, but self diagnosis is neverrecommended because the wrong approach mayprove ineffective or could even make symptomsworse.With that understood, most patients are able tofind sufficient relief with a series ofconservative, nonsurgical methods that aredesigned to alleviate pain and remove strain fromthe back or neck. While treatments vary frompatient to patient, the use of low-impactexercises, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatorydrugs, epidural injections, deep tissuemassage, diet, and other similar methods may allbe recommended.
SurgeryIn the event that several weeks or months of conservativetreatment fails to deliver the results that the patientrequires, other treatment options, including spondylosissurgery may be considered. Typically, the goal of thiscourse of treatment is to physically remove the source ofthe patient’s pain, be it a bone spur, calcifiedligament, herniated disc material, or other cause. This canoften be completed as either an open spinesurgery, or, increasingly common, as a minimally invasiveprocedure in an outpatient setting. It is up to the patientto fully explore his or her options, receive second andthird opinions, and find the right approach for thecondition.