Spondylosis is a term referring to degenerative disease of the spine and is analogous to the term ‘arthritis’. While true arthritis may occur in joints that are located within the spine, the spine is a complex structure that also contains other components including intervertebral discs, and ligaments that may be subject to degeneration. With advancing age, discs can lose water content, causing erosion or collapse. Loss of the protective cushion between the vertebrae results in bone rubbing against bone. Excessive wear and tear on spinal structures may promote the development of osteophytes (bony spurs) that push against the spinal cord, compress spinal nerves, and restrict joint movement. Over time, spondylosis may cause thickening of the spinal ligaments, contributing to nerve compression and pain. Spondylosis usually affects the neck or lower back, although it can occur in any area of the spine. The terms osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease are often used interchangeably with spondylosis.
Symptoms of spondylosis depend on the area of the spine affected. Common symptoms include:
- Severe neck or back pain
- Progressive joint stiffness, limited movement, headaches
- Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
- Muscle spasm and /or weakness
- Difficulty maintaining balance and/or walking
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control* (uncommon)
- Advancing age
- Degenerative disc disease
In Dr. Stieber’s practice, most spondylosis patients respond well to a multidisciplinary treatment approach that includes medication and physical therapy. For patients with persistent pain, epidural steroid injections may provide relief for up to 6 months. If conservative treatment fails, surgery may be the best treatment option. Spinal misalignment and instability may be corrected with spinal fusion. Decompression surgery can alleviate nerve compression. Dr. Stieber is an expert in minimally invasive techniques and can offer a variety of surgical solutions tailored to your age, overall health, and lifestyle.