Spondylosis and degenerative disc disease

Spondylosis is a general term for the natural age-related breakdown of spinal anatomy, particularly the joints and discs. Although it very often refers to spinal osteoarthritis, or joint inflammation, spondylosis can also be used to describe degenerative disc disease, which is the natural breakdown of the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae.

Diagnosing spondylosis and degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease occurs because the spinal discs dry out over time, making them less elastic and unable to withstand the pressure of cushioning the vertebrae. Additionally, factors like carrying extra body weight, posture, nutrition and smoking can all affect the health of the discs. Together these forces can cause discs to lose height, bulge out of their place in the spinal column or develop a tear or rupture.

Degenerative disc disease and spondylosis are not necessarily painful, but can cause spinal narrowing that leads to nerve compression and related symptoms. These include:

  • Localized neck or back pain
  • 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.

First steps of treatment for spondylosis

If degenerative disc disease and/or spondylosis is diagnosed as the underlying cause of these symptoms, doctors will likely recommend an initial course of conservative treatments. Common options include exercise and stretching, periods of rest, alternating a heating pad with cold compresses, medication, massage and physical therapy.

If a full course of these nonsurgical treatment options prove ineffective against chronic pain, your doctor may 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.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a range of options for minimally invasive spine surgery that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Contact our dedicated team today to learn more.

If you’d like to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, we’re happy to provide a free MRI review.*