Spondylosis, also known as degenerative spinal arthritis or spinal osteoarthritis, is a condition that results from the degeneration of articular cartilage between the facet joint bones in the spine. This problem arises as the body ages, and it is more commonly seen in women than in men. As the cartilage breaks down, its absence leaves the joints without proper lubrication and allows the bones to grind together. With these roughened bones rubbing together, patients may experience bone spurs and irritated nerve roots.
Because the symptoms are similar, spondylosis is sometimes misdiagnosed as degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease, is the breakdown of the discs between vertebrae rather than the cartilage between facet joints. Spondylosis also should not be confused with rheumatoid arthritis in the spine, a less common, although potentially more severe, autoimmune disease of joint tissue. Also, keep in mind that osteoarthritis is not the same condition as osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass over time.
While neck or back pain caused by these similar conditions and others can resemble the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine, there are specific signs that could point to spondylosis. These signs include:
- The sensation of bone rubbing on bone
- Weakness or numbness in the legs, as with lumbar spine arthritis with spurring
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, as with cervical spine arthritis with spurring
- Diminished joint flexibility
- Intermittent joint pain that eases with movement
If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, you should consult your physician. He or she will likely use a physical examination, combined with spinal imaging and blood tests, to determine the origin and nature of your pain. Once a diagnosis of spondylosis is made, the physician will likely recommend that your condition be treated non-surgically with exercise or pain/anti-inflammatory medicine. If these non-surgical treatment options prove ineffective against chronic pain, your physician might suggest surgery as an alternative. Before you make a decision, be sure to investigate all spondylosis surgical options thoroughly, including those offered at Laser Spine Institute. Laser Spine Institute is here to make your research simpler. Our surgeons use a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures available to treat spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the spine. Contact Laser Spine Institute for information about our minimally invasive surgical procedures and for a review of your MRI or CT scan.