Spondylitis — difference between spondylitis and spondylosis

Many patients are confused by the similarity of the terms “spondylitis” and “spondylosis.” When researching spine conditions, it is important to research the correct condition for you. Often, we speak with patients diagnosed with spondylitis, but who have spent all of their time researching spondylosis. This confusion can quickly turn into frustration when patients realize that the time and effort they put into understanding their condition was all for naught.

At Laser Spine Institute, we believe in patient-centered care, which begins with educating our patients about spine conditions so they can make informed decisions about their medical needs. For this reason, we want to take a moment to explain the difference between “spondylitis” and “spondylosis” so our patients can spend time researching the correct medical condition in order to take proactive steps toward finding a treatment solution.

Clarification of terms

Spondylitis is a spine condition used to describe a group of arthritic spine conditions that cause inflammation in the joints and vertebrae. Spondylitis has no known cause, but it largely considered to be a genetic disease. In severe cases of spondylitis, the arthritis in the joints of the spine will deteriorate the joints, causing the vertebrae to fuse together and limit mobility in that section of the spine. There is no known cure for spondylitis, but several types of minimally invasive stabilization procedures can help reduce pain and increase mobility at the site of the condition.

Spondylosis is also a form of arthritis in the spine. However, instead of causing inflammation in the spine, spondylosis causes degeneration of the joints and vertebrae. It is often caused by general wear and tear of the spine, such as vertebrae compressing over time and deteriorating the discs found between the vertebrae. Spondylosis can also cause the compression of a nearby nerve root, causing severe and chronic pain in the back and extremities.

Symptoms of spondylitis and spondylosis

Symptoms of spondylitis differ based on the cause and severity of the condition. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness in back
  • Limited mobility
  • Strange curvature of spine
  • Limited range of motion for spine
  • Local and radiating pain in the back, hip, and/or extremities

Symptoms of spondylosis also differ based on the individual and the severity of the spine condition. Most patients experience the following symptoms:

  • Limited flexibility
  • Tingling, numbness and weakness in extremities
  • Difficulty walking
  • In severe cases, loss of bladder and bowel control

Schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your symptoms to help your physician determine the severity of your condition. Together, you can create a treatment plan that will fit your needs and your lifestyle.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer several minimally invasive procedures to help relieve the pain associated with spondylosis. We do not offer treatment for spondylitis because there is no cure for this condition. However, if you have spondylitis, our care team can help you research alternative treatment solutions to help relieve your chronic pain.