Degenerative spondylosis is a redundant term, as “spondylosis” literally means “spine problem” due to degeneration. Physicians describe degeneration of the spinal anatomy as spondylosis, but it’s important to keep in mind that this degeneration is not what directly causes the painful symptoms of numbness, tingling and weakness. Rather, spondylosis sufficiently weakens facet joints, vertebrae and intervertebral discs to the point where they can become damaged and infringe upon nearby spinal nerves. Spondylosis also may refer to the deterioration of the cartilage that coats the facet joints between the vertebrae. As cartilage wears away, neck (cervical vertebrae) and back (lumbar and thoracic vertebrae)and neck (cervical vertebrae) movement can become stiff and painful.
If degenerative spondylosis isn’t causing my pain, what is?
Your physician will try to pinpoint the exact location and cause of your neck or back pain by following a series of diagnostic procedures, including:
- Medical history – This includes personal medical history and family history. Tell your physician what medications you’re taking, if you’ve had any serious illnesses or surgical procedures in the past or if you’ve recently experienced any injuries, even minor ones.
- Physical exam – The physician will palpate your spine and look for areas that are swollen, warm or sensitive to the touch. There will also be a visual exam where your physician will check for abnormal spine curvature or problems with flexibility and range of motion.
- Review of symptoms – Be honest and accurate when your physician asks you to describe your symptoms. Specify the location, frequency, severity and nature of the pain you feel. Be clear about whether your discomfort is constant or if it is triggered by certain movements.
- Medical imaging – Once a diagnosis has been narrowed down to a section of the spine (cervical, thoracic or lumbar), an MRI or CT scan can help the physician see exactly which vertebrae, discs or joints are affected.
Treating degenerative spondylosis
Most patients find that weeks or months of gentle exercise, yoga and over-the-counter analgesics can sufficiently manage their symptoms. For the minority of patients whose degenerative spine condition worsens over time, there is Laser Spine Institute. Contact us today to find out more about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that offer fewer risks and faster recuperation times compared to traditional open spine surgeries.