Spondylosis versus spondylitis

Many people use the words spondylosis and spondylitis interchangeably, possibly because they both share the root word “spondylos” which is Greek for the spine. However, while they are both painful conditions that affect the spine, they are in fact two different conditions.

Spondylosis, a catchall term for spinal degeneration, is a fairly common condition, especially in people over the age of 50. On the other hand, spondylitis, which is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and sacroiliac joints (the joints where the hips meet the spine), is somewhat rare and can affect people of almost any age. Read on for an overview on spondylosis and spondylitis as well as treatments available to ease your symptoms.

Causes of spondylosis

The main contributor to the development of spondylosis is aging. Erosion and degeneration of the soft tissues of the spine are a natural part of the aging process. These soft tissues serve to protect the vertebrae and nerves of the spine from damage. As they wear away, the bones and nerves become more vulnerable to damage, which can lead to pain. Typical painful conditions that develop as a result of spondylosis include herniated discs, degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. Spondylosis can develop in any part of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine.

What to expect after a spondylitis diagnosis

Spondylitis is characterized by inflammation of the spine, specifically the spinal joints. Between each of our vertebrae, there are hinge-like joints, called facet joints, which allow the spine to bend and move. As spondylitis sets in and inflames the joints, a patient feels stiffness and pain in his or her back. When the disease progresses, the inflammation may spread to other parts of the body, such as the joints between the ribs and the spine, hip joints, shoulder joints and knee joints. In advanced stages, the bones of the spine may actually fuse, making movement difficult and very painful.

Unlike spondylosis, which can affect almost anyone, spondylitis tends to affect men more than women and runs in families. Another difference between spondylosis and spondylitis is the age at which it begins. Spondylosis symptoms usually begin after age 50. The onset of spondylitis, on the other hand, typically happens between the ages of 20 and 40.

Spondylosis and spondylitis treatments

If spondylosis or any other spinal condition is causing you chronic pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about how our minimally invasive procedures can help you find relief from neck or back pain. Although Laser Spine Institute does not offer minimally invasive surgery to treat spondylitis, our dedicated team can help patients with spondylitis find alternative treatments for pain relief.

At Laser Spine Institute, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck and back conditions. Our team of dedicated surgeons is able to use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to find lasting relief. Reach out to one of our state-of-the-art facilities today and ask for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you would be a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.