Three types of pain from spondylosis

Spondylosis is a term referring to the gradual degeneration of the spine and occurs as a part of the natural aging process. The term often refers to spinal osteoarthritis, a condition characterized by a loss of joint cartilage that causes joint inflammation. Another type of spondylosis is degenerative disc disease, which results from the gradual loss of water and protein content from the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae. Although spinal deterioration can go unnoticed and not cause any symptoms, it can also result in a range of difficulties, including the following three types of pain.

Type 1: Arthritic pain

Without sufficient cartilage, the spinal facet joints can grind together during movement, potentially causing inflammation, discomfort and stiffness in each affected joint. In many cases, these spondylosis symptoms are the worst upon waking and gradually lessen as you begin to move more and loosen up throughout the day.

Type 2: Localized pain

Pain brought on by spondylosis is often related to the body’s reaction to joint or disc degeneration, rather than the lack of tissue itself. One common reaction to spondylosis is the development of bone spurs. The friction between bones can cause inflammation and trigger the body to produce these protective deposits within the facet joints. Bone spurs do not hurt, but in some cases, they may place pressure on other elements of the spine, including the nerve roots or the spinal cord. Such pressure can lead to many types of pain, including localized neck or back pain.

Type 3: Radiating nerve pain

Not all spondylosis pain occurs directly where the nerve compression occurs. When a nerve is pinched, pain and other symptoms can affect any area along the nerve’s pathway. This means when compression happens in the cervical (upper) spine, symptoms can occur in the shoulders, arms and hands as well. Similarly, when compression happens in the lumbar (lower) spine, the resulting pain, numbness, weakness or tingling sensations can appear in the hips, buttocks, legs or feet.

Symptoms of compression of the central spinal cord in the cervical region can result in a group of symptoms called myelopathy. Specific symptoms include arm pain, loss of hand coordination, leg pain and difficulty walking. Because they happen far from the actual compression site, these traveling spondylosis symptoms can sometimes be difficult for doctors to diagnose.

Treatment for spondylosis pain

In many cases, the pain and other symptoms of spondylosis can be addressed and managed using conservative nonsurgical treatments like taking medication, going to physical therapy sessions and making lifestyle changes. For some people, however, surgery may be recommended if conservative treatments have been exhausted without improving symptoms enough for a healthy, active lifestyle. For patients concerned about the risks and difficulties associated with traditional open neck or back surgery, the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute is an alternative with many advantages.

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