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The definition of spondylosis

There is some variation about the exact definition of spondylosis. Used generally, the term describes the overall breakdown of the spinal components — a natural process that occurs as we age. However, many doctors use the term to specifically refer to osteoarthritis that affects the spine. Either way, the condition deals with the deterioration of the spine and its related effects on the body.

How spondylosis is diagnosed

A spondylosis diagnosis typically starts with a patient describing neck or back pain to a physician. In many cases, the signs are pain and a loss of flexibility. To confirm the specific underlying cause of the symptoms, however, the physician may need imaging tests. That way, he or she can tell if the pain is due to the growth of bone spurs caused by spinal osteoarthritis, the thickening of ligaments, the degeneration of the spinal discs, or possibly a combination of factors.

Causes of spondylosis

In most cases, spondylosis can be traced back the natural aging process — the spinal components simply deteriorate as we grow older. However, there are certain factors that can speed up this breakdown. For example, inherited traits, obesity, poor posture, repetitive strain and trauma to the spinal column can all impact the spine for the worse.

Symptoms of spondylosis

The main symptoms of spondylosis are discomfort and a lack of flexibility at the affected area of the spine. However, if the elements of the spine place pressure on a nearby nerve, then other symptoms can occur anywhere down the path of the compressed nerve. That means spondylosis affecting the neck can lead to issues in the shoulder, arm or hand, while problems in the lumbar spine can mean problems in the hip, buttock, leg or foot. Radiating symptoms can include:

  • Dull or shooting pain
  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness

Spondylosis treatment options

Treatment approaches depend largely on the area affected and the underlying cause of the symptoms. In general, the approach to treatment is kept conservative — or nonsurgical — at first. Doctors often recommend that patients address their symptoms by taking medications, completing physical therapy, applying heat or cold to the affected area and, in some cases, receiving epidural steroid injections.

Spondylosis surgery

In some cases is spondylosis surgery necessary for people to find relief from their symptoms. There are a number of spinal surgery options available and anyone thinking about surgery should consider all of the options. There are traditional open spine surgery options, as well as the minimally invasive alternatives performed at Laser Spine Institute.

For more information about the minimally invasive spine surgery options performed at our Scottsdale, Ariz., location, contact us today. We offer a no-cost MRI review to see if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.