Spondylosis is a type of arthritis caused by wear and tear to the spine. Aging can cause the degeneration of the discs and joints in the spine, sometimes causing the growth of bone spurs, which can impact the spine’s movement and affect the nerves and other functions. Spondylosis is commonly found in people over 50.
There are three main types of spondylosis:
The most common cause of spondylosis is general wear and tear from age. The spine helps support most of the body’s weight and carries and protects many of the main nerve branches that run from the brain. Over time the soft, rubbery tissue that separates the vertebrae, called intervertebral discs, become drier, thinner, and harder and lose some of their cushioning ability. The loss of these tissues makes the spine stiffer and back movement less smooth as friction increases.
In an attempt to correct itself, the spine will sometimes grow bony formations called bone spurs to try to make the spine stronger. However, the extra bone can press on delicate areas, like the spinal cord or nerves, resulting in pain.
Trauma from an accident or overuse from athletics can also accelerate spondylosis. Even some occupations, such as construction work or work involving heavy lifting, can put extra pressure on the spine, resulting in early wear and tear.
Daily wear and tear are the general cause of spondylosis, but people can be affected differently depending on individual risk factors, which include:
Spondylosis doesn’t often cause noticeable symptoms, but when it does, it can cause stiffness, soreness, or both. When pain is involved, it is often because changes in the discs are pressing on nerves that extend from the spinal canal. Other symptoms include:
If a sudden onset of numbness or tingling in the shoulder, arms, or legs, loss of balance, or loss of bladder control is experienced, immediate medical attention is needed. This can indicate serious nerve dysfunction and lead to permanent nerve damage.
Most cases of spondylosis can be treated with nonoperative therapies. These conservative methods include many therapies used to manage symptoms.
If the condition worsens or doesn’t respond to other forms of treatment, surgical options can be considered. Surgery can relieve pressure on nerves and alleviate pain. Surgery might also be needed if pinched nerves cause serious numbness, weakness, or loss of bowel and bladder control. Surgical options include:
If you are having symptoms of spondylosis, don’t ignore them. Contact Neurological Associates of Central Jersey to create your individualized treatment plan today.