Spondylosis refers to degenerative arthritis of the joints between the vertebrae and/or neural foraminae. The interfacetal joints are not included in this term.
It is a common cause of back pain and if it is very severe can cause pressure on adjacent roots resulting in sensory and/or motor problems, such as pain, paresthesia, or muscle weakness in the limbs.
When the space between two adjacent vertebrae narrows, compression of a nerve root emerging from the spinal cord may result in radiculopathy.
A direct pressure on the spinal cord which mostly occurs in the cervical spine may result in myelopathy [Characterized by global weakness, gait dysfunction, loss of balance, and loss of bowel and bladder control in severe cases].
Spondylosis of neck vertebrae is called cervical spondylosis. Lower back spondylosis is labeled as lumbar spondylosis.
The term spondylosis should not not be confused with
- Spondylitis: It means inflammation of a vertebra. Usual cause is infection
- Spondylolysis is a defect in the pars interarticularis of a vertebra
- Spondylolisthesis is the anterior displacement of a vertebra or the vertebral column in relation to the vertebrae below
Treatment of spondylosis is usually conservative in nature and involves
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
- Physical Modalities like exercises and traction
- Lifestyle modifications.
Surgery is occasionally indicated.
Surgery is advocated for cervical radiculopathy in patients
- With intractable pain
- Progressive symptoms
- Weakness that fails to improve with conservative therapy.
- Moderate-to-severe myelopathy.
In lumbar spondylosis, the surgery is indicated if there is a compromise of the canal space with symptoms not improving on conservative treatment.
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