Spondylosis is arthritis that affects the spine, also referred to as osteoarthritis of the spine. It is the cause of age-related degeneration (wear and tear). As discs degenerate, bone spurs can grow on the vertebrae that impair back movement and affect nearby nerves.
This condition can affect different portions of the spine: cervical (neck), thoracic (middle spine), lumbar (lower back), and multilevel (more than one portion of the spine).
- Genetic predisposition
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Spine injury or spine surgery
Symptoms will vary depending on the stage and severity of arthritis. Some people may not show symptoms, some may have symptoms that go away after some time, some may experience pain with certain movements, and some people may have chronic pain.
The most common symptoms include:
- Pain and muscle spasms
- Weakness in the hands or legs
- Grinding or popping sensation when moving the spine
- Poor coordination
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
Spinal osteoarthritis can lead to several complications, including spinal stenosis, cervical radiculopathy, cervical spondylotic myelopathy, and scoliosis.
There are several approaches to treating spinal osteoarthritis, which may be combined for better results.
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Your doctor may recommend muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms or drugs to ease nerve pain. Topical creams can be applied at home as well. In some cases, steroid medications or injections may be helpful.
Regular physical exercise can halt the progression of the disease, especially low-impact exercises such as swimming, biking, or walking. A physical therapist can assist you with specific exercises to strengthen the spine and improve range of motion. They can help you improve your posture while sitting and walking. Some people may benefit from better back support when sleeping and sitting. Finding the right mattress for sleeping and chair for work or home is crucial.
Your doctor may recommend certain surgical procedures if your case is severe. If pinched nerves cause serious numbness, weakness, or a total loss of bladder/bowel control, surgery may be an option. The type of procedure will depend on the location of the pain and related problems (nerve damage, bone spurs, etc.).
The doctor may remove a disc and replace it with an artificial disc, or fuse the vertebrae together. The procedures can be done endoscopically, using a small incision, reducing the invasiveness of spine surgery.
For a comprehensive evaluation from the experts at Brain2Spine Institute, call 727-828-8400.