Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a type of arthritis spurred by wear and tear to the spine. It happens when discs and joints degenerate when bone spurs grow on the vertebrae or both. These changes can impair the spine’s movement and affect the nerves and other functions.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 85 percent of people older than 60 have cervical (upper spine) spondylosis.

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Cause of spondylosis 

As a person ages, the discs become drier and harder. They lose some of their cushioning ability.

The facet joints between the vertebrae also function less well with age because of wear and tear on their cartilage surfaces. As the cartilage erodes, the bones start to rub together, causing friction. This can result in the formation of bony growths, called bone spurs.

The loss of rubbery tissues and the development of spurs make the spine stiffer. The back movement also becomes less smooth, and the range reduces.

Risk factors of spondylosis 

Daily wear and tear over time is the general cause of spondylosis.

  • Being overweight

  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise

  • Previously injured the spine or undergone spinal surgery

  • Smoking

  • Jobs that require repetitive or weight-bearing movements that involve the spine

Symptoms of spondylosis 

Back pain is the most common symptom.

  • Back pain (most common symptom) 

  • Grinding feeling when moving the spine

  • Weakness in legs

  • Muscle spasms and pain

  • Loss of balance and difficulty walking

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

When should I seek medical help?

  • Severe back pain which disturbs your sleep

  • Pain does not improve after 6 weeks or worsens

  • Neurological symptoms

    • Lower limb weakness or paralysis

    • Tingling and numbness of lower limbs

    • Loss of bladder control

Diagnosis 

To diagnose spondylosis in your lower back your doctor will perform a physical examination and special tests, taking your case history and past medical history. They will also palpate (gently examine by touch) the area to establish the source. They will take blood from you for further testing including neurological exams and the range of your joints. 

Further imaging including an X-ray will be done. If necessary for more detailed evaluation, CT exams or MRI scanning would be required. CT examination visualizes the spine in greater detail and can diagnose a narrowing of the spinal canal

Treatment 

Treatment for spondylosis varied. First-line treatment is normally lifestyle changes. If the pain doesn’t improve the next step is medication prescribed by doctors. If pain persists, surgery is the last step of treatment. 

Lifestyle modification 

  • Over-the-counter pain relief medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) e.g. ibuprofen

  • Keeping physically active: Low-impact exercise, such as swimming or walking, can help with maintaining flexibility and strengthening the muscles that support the spine.

  • Improving posture

  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist may suggest specific exercises or massage.

  • Back support: A person may need to choose a chair or mattress that supports their back better.

  • Rest during periods of inflammation: When symptoms are troublesome, try resting for a while.

Medication

  • Pain relief medication

  • Muscle relaxants, to reduce spasms

  • Drugs that ease nerve pain

  • Topical creams

  • Steroid medications

  • An injection that combines steroid and anesthetic medication

Surgery- if symptoms are severe and persistent and if no other treatment has helped.