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Spondylosis: Introduction

Spondylosis is a common degenerative joint disease that is due to aging and time related wear and tear on the vertebrae (bones) of the neck and back. The deterioration of spondylosis also affects the cartilage, a slippery substance that helps bones to move easily, and the discs, which are pillow-like tissues between the vertebrae that cushion movement of the neck and back. Spondylosis can lead to abnormal growths (bone spurs) on the vertebrae, spinal osteoarthritis, chronic pain, and disability.

There are three types of spondylosis. These include cervical spondylosis, which affects the cervical spine of the neck. Thoracic spondylosis affects the thoracic spine of the mid and upper back, and lumbar spondylosis affects the lumbar spine of the lower back.

The degenerative changes in the neck and back due to spondylosis can lead to compression of the spinal nerves (nerve roots). Typical symptoms of spondylosis include neck pain, back pain, weakness of the extremities, and headaches. Spondylosis can lead to complications, such as chronic pain, which can result in difficulties performing daily activities in some cases. For more details on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of spondylosis.

The degenerative changes in the spine of people with spondylosis generally begin by age 30, although symptoms often do not appear until after age 40 or later. Risk factors for developing spondylosis include being middle aged, having a neck or back injury, a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis.

Making a diagnosis of spondylosis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination and neurological examination. During the physical exam, the physician will also asses the flexibility of the neck and back. A neurological exam evaluates the muscles, nerves and nervous system and such functions as reflexes, sensation and pain, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing.

Diagnostic tests may also include an electromyogram (EMG) which tests the nerve and electrical activity of muscles. A nerve conduction test may also be performed to test how fast the nerves transmit impulses to the muscles. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scan, myelogram, or MRI may be done to determine if there is joint damage or nerve damage.

It is possible that a diagnosis of spondylosis can be missed or delayed because people generally have no symptoms in early stages of the condition. Symptoms of spondylosis can also be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis and other diseases and disorders that can mimic spondylosis, refer to misdiagnosis of spondylosis.

Treatment for spondylosis varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Spondylosis cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms. Treatment can include a combination of medication, exercise, physical therapy, and surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of spondylosis. ...more »

Spondylosis: A degenerative disorder characterized by degeneration of the spine and caused by excessive wear and tear on cartilage and bones of the spine. The discs, joints and ligaments of the spine are generally involved: the discs lose their cushioning effect between the spinal bones, the ligaments become weaker and the bones can develop bony growths or spurs. Aging is the primary cause of this degeneration which can be very painful in some cases. Also called spinal osteoarthritis. ...more »

Spondylosis: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of spondylosis vary between individuals and will differ depending on the specific type of spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis affects the cervical spine of the neck. Thoracic spondylosis affects the thoracic spine of the mid and upper back, and lumbar spondylosis affects the lumbar spine of the lower back.

At the onset of the condition, which can ...more symptoms »

Spondylosis: Treatments

There is no cure for the degenerative changes in the spine due to spondylosis. However with early recognition and treatment, it is possible to minimize discomfort and risks of complications of the condition. The most successful treatment plans usually use a multipronged approach, including physical therapy, exercise, medications, and in some cases surgery. In many cases ...more treatments »

Spondylosis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of spondylosis may be delayed or missed because there are often no symptoms in early stages and symptoms can develop slowly over a period of years. In addition, symptoms of spondylosis can mimic symptoms of a variety of other diseases and conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, minor neck trauma, aging, excessive exercise, back strain, cervical strain ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Spondylosis

Treatments for Spondylosis

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Spondylosis: Related Patient Stories

Spondylosis: Deaths

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Spondylosis: Complications

Read more about complications of Spondylosis.

Causes of Spondylosis

Read more about causes of Spondylosis.

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