What is Spondylosis- All You Need to Know
Spondylosis (pronounced – spon – di – lo – sis ) is a degenerative condition of the spine’s vertebral joints. It also commonly known as Cervical Spondylosis or Lumbar Spondylosis when it occurs in the neck and lower back respectively. Primarily as a result of wear-and-tear of the bones and cartilage, the space between two spinal vertebrae narrows with spondylosis.
It is this narrowing of the space that leads to the sensation of pain and numbness. As the space between the vertebrae narrows, it impinges on the nerve root emerging from the spine at the location. Depending on the location of the nerve root, pain may be felt down the arm or legs (See Dermatome Patterns)
Type of Spondylosis
When spondylosis occurs in the neck, it known as “cervical spondylosis”. At the lower back, it is known as “lumbar spondylosis”.
Bones spurs or osteophytes sometimes occur together with spondylosis. These bone spurs are abnormal growth that occurs usually as a result of the body attempting to stabilise the degenerated joint. Like in the case of an unstable building, we build extra scaffolding to better support the building. Unfortunately, these bone spurs can sometime further aggravate the condition by pressing onto a nerve themselves.
Although cervical spondylosis and lumbar spondylosis a conditions arising from wear-and-tear and often found in older adults, it not uncommon to find in younger adults in their late 20s or 30s. Early wear-and-tear of joints usually exacerbated by uneven pressures or forces of a joint as a result of poor bio-mechanics (e.g posture), excessive repetitive movement of the joint and excessive loads on the joint.
Spondylosis should not confuse with spondylitis, spondylolysis, or spondylolisthesis which sounds and spelt similarly.
Symptoms of Spondylosis
Spondylosis symptoms often develop slowly over time but may start suddenly as a result of nerve compression. The most common symptoms are:
- Neck pain (may radiate to the arms or shoulder)
- Neck stiffness that gets worse over time
- Loss of sensation or abnormal sensations in the shoulders, arms, or legs
- Weakness of the arms or legs
- Headaches, particularly in the back of the head (see Tension Headaches)
More severe but less common symptoms are:
- Loss of balance
- Loss of control over the bladder or bowels (if the spinal cord is compressed)
Treatment for Spondylosis
While the degeneration cannot be cured or reversed, the symptoms and pain that result from the degeneration can be managed and alleviated. At Core Concepts, we may treat spondylosis with one or more of the following techniques or approaches
- Joint Mobilisation or Manipulation to help alleviate joint stiffness (for Neck or Lower Back stiffness)
- Postural Re-training to treat poor posture (a common underlying cause of ‘extra’ wear-and-tear)
- Strengthening of Global and Local Muscle stabilisers
- Ergonomic Assessment
- Electrotherapy or Electro Physical Agents, to help alleviate the immediate pain symptoms
Experiencing back pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for back pain relief and how Core Concepts can help