Spondylosis is degeneration of the spine. Spondylosis should not to be confused with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. Although spondylosis technically means any degeneration of the spine, physicians often actually mean osteoarthritic spinal degeneration. Spondylosis is part of the aging process. All persons have some degree of spondylosis.

The aging process is different for everyone. A variety of disease processes, as well as genetics and lifestyle, influence how individuals age. This is highly visible, for example, in persons who become prematurely gray. Some people do not develop gray hair until late in life. Because everyone ages differently, spondylosis pain begins differently in everyone. For some people, spondylosis symptoms develop early, and some people may never experience them. It just depends on your individual situation.

What are the symptoms of spondylosis?

Spondylosis can affect any part of the spine. The symptoms experienced will depend on which part of the spine the disease is affecting. For example, if you have osteoarthritis in your cervical spine (neck area), you might have the following symptoms:

  • Shoulder or neck stiffness in the morning that may prevent you from moving easily after you get out of bed
  • Intermittent pain that radiates to your shoulders, arms and hands
  • Numbness or soreness in your neck and shoulders
  • Headaches that mainly affect the back of your head
  • Difficulty balancing

If arthritic changes are found in the thoracic spine (mid-back), the patient might feel:

  • Morning stiffness of the mid back
  • Pain in the upper and mid back
  • Pain when bending or extending the body

People with age-related degeneration in their lumbar spine (lower back) may experience:

  • Numbness, soreness or pain in the lower back
  • Stiffness in the lower back after getting up in the morning
  • Sciatica
  • Leg weakness and difficulty walking

Treatment of spondylosis

There is no cure for spondylosis. However, symptomatic relief is possible. As with all osteoarthritis and other degenerative conditions, the goal is acceptable symptom management. There are a number of useful management strategies. Always check with your physician before initiating any therapy to ensure that the particular type of therapeutic activity is right for you.
Some people with spondylosis have found relief through:

  • Over-the-counter medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Prescription muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Yoga or pilates
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Alternative medicine treatments, such as chiropractic care or herbal medicine

Surgery is generally suggested for osteoarthritis only when severe complications, such as bone spur formation, accompany arthritic changes. Osteophytes (bone spurs) may cause any symptom resulting from spinal nerve compression.

If pain from spondylosis is reducing your quality of life, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive outpatient procedures may be able to help you find relief from symptoms caused by arthritic changes.