Spondylosis refers to any type of degeneration in the spine. However, the term is frequently used to describe osteoarthritis of the spine. It’s not an actual condition but a term that is used to describe what is happening to the spine. For instance, a person who is experiencing degeneration and pain will be said to have spondylosis, although there may be a more specific condition causing the problem. Spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and leg pain are some of the specific causes of degeneration and pain.
Causes and Risk Factors of Spondylosis
Spondylosis is most commonly associated with aging. The bones and ligaments in the spine wear, which leads to bone spurs. Discs can herniate and bulge. The conditions that cause spondylosis can be painful. If you have a parent or relative with spondylosis, this is something you want to tell your doctor since people can have a genetic predisposition to the condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Spondylosis
Many people can have spondylosis and not experience any symptoms. However, some people will experience back and neck pain due to nerve compression. Nerve compression is caused by other conditions, such as tightened muscles, bulging discs, disc herniation, and anything that can cause the nerve roots to become impinged. This may lead to shooting pain to other parts of the body. However, pain is usually localized. If the condition is present in the cervical spine, a person can experience headaches.
When to Seek Medical Care
If you have pain, you should seek medical attention. If it doesn’t respond to the prescribed treatment, then you and your doctor will need to come up with a new plan to address the pain. Experiencing any of the following is cause for seeking medical attention:
- Weakness in at least one limb or unable to do such things as flex your foot
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Numbness in the groin area
- Difficulty walking because of shooting pains down the leg
- Back or neck pain is occurring in the presence of weight loss or a fever of 100 degrees or more
Doctors will use x-rays and CT scans to determine what is happening. MRIs are also used to see the vertebrae, ligaments, nerves, and other components of the spine. By obtaining a good visual of the spine, the issue can be isolated so that it can be properly treated.
Spondylosis can’t be reversed because it is a degenerative issue. Treatment targets the pain, which makes it much like the treatment for other conditions. Medication, exercise, and other therapies may be used. Injections can also help. However, there are times when surgery is needed to improve the quality of life as much as possible. In the meantime, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can be used to treat the pain. Muscle relaxants may also be used to relieve any spasms that are causing pain. Even antidepressants can be helpful in the treatment of chronic back pain. Some patients find various topical medications effective. These topical ointments can be massaged into the affected area to relieve the pain. Overall, pain relief is the primary goal of any spondylosis treatment.