Spondylosis may be accelerated by injury, but more often than not the degeneration of the spinal anatomy is caused by nothing more than regular wear and tear on the spine. Spondylosis is the word used by physicians to describe the presence of deterioration at different levels of the spine. This umbrella term isn’t a diagnosis, but may explain the source of neck or back pain. However, it should be noted that spine degeneration isn’t necessarily painful. An individual experiences pain from spondylosis when it is accompanied by nerve compression. Further, an injury often causes neck or back pain in the short term and can contribute to spondylosis later in life.
Spondylosis most commonly presents in the lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck) because of the weight burden and stress placed on these segments. Over the years, this pressure takes its toll on the spine and eventually the spinal anatomy begins to deteriorate. In most cases this is a gradual process, and many people don’t even know it is happening unless it becomes painful. Spinal degeneration can take many forms:
- The soft intervertebral discs that cushion the spine weaken, thin, or rupture
- The facet joints that interlock adjacent vertebrae become inflamed and arthritic
- Osteophytes, or bone spurs, develop in the spinal column
- The spinal canal and foramina gradually narrow causing nerve compression (stenosis)
- Muscles, tendons, and ligaments slowly weaken
Spondylosis can also be accelerated by injury. While traumatic injury can certainly contribute to spinal deterioration, minor injury from repetitive motions like lifting or bending and high-impact sports also wear on the spine and can lead to advanced deterioration earlier in life.
If you are experiencing neck or back pain, visit your physician to determine whether spondylosis or injury is at fault. In most cases, pain and pain-related symptoms can be managed with a steady course of conservative treatments, including the use of pain medication, physical therapy and heat/cold therapy. Contact Laser Spine Institute if your pain persists after several weeks of conservative treatment, and ask about the minimally invasive procedures we offer to treat neck and back pain.