It can be confusing: The words spondylitis and spondylosis both originate with the same root, spondylos (the Greek word for vertebra). They even sound very similar. Is there, in fact, a difference, or are cervical spondylitis and cervical spondylosis interchangeable terms for the same medical condition having something to do with the vertebrae?
Clarification of Terms
Spondylitis is a classification of several different inflammatory arthritic conditions that are not rheumatic and which primarily affect the spine. Spondylitis conditions are characterized by chronic inflammation of the joint capsules and ligaments and are more than likely hereditary. Generally speaking, spondylitis is much more common within the lumbar and sacral (lower) spine, so there is not really such a condition as cervical spondylitis.
Spondylosis, on the other hand, is a form of osteoarthritis that develops in the spine. It is degenerative, not inflammatory, as it is characterized by degradation in the cartilage within the spinal joints which may lead to bones rubbing against one another. Additionally, it can lead to compression of nerve roots or of the spinal cord. Spondylosis can occur in any part of the spine, including in the cervical (neck) region of the spine.
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of spondylitis include stiffness and inflammation of the spinal joints and, often, the sacroiliac joint (where the hip bones meet the spine). In cases of ankylosing spondylitis, vertebrae and the sacroiliac joint are susceptible to bone overgrowth and fusion. Skin rashes, intestinal inflammation, and eye problems may occur, depending on the type of spondylitis. Spondylosis presents with diminished flexibility and other symptoms similar to those of a herniated disc – including pain and tingling. In both spondylitis and spondylosis, most treatment is aimed at mitigation of symptoms.
With spondylosis, surgery is a legitimate option, depending on the severity of the case. If your physician has recommended surgery to relieve the symptoms of your cervical spondylosis, contact Laser Spine Institute (LSI). Our expert team of spine surgeons is well-versed in endoscopic spine procedures designed to treat nerve root compression.
For more information, contact LSI today.