What is spondylosis?

Spondylosis is a bard term of the spinal degeneration such as bone spurs and degenerating intervertebral discs. Most often, the term spondylosis is used to describe osteoarthritis of the spine.

Spondylosis can occur in the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper and mid-back), or lumbar spine (low back). Lumbar spondylosis and cervical spondylosis are the most common.

How common is spondylosis?

This health condition is extremely common. It commonly affects more elderly people. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of spondylosis?

The common symptoms of spondylosis are

  • Stiffness or pain in the neck or back. Usually, the back discomfort is relieved when the person is lying down.
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if it is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself.
  • Pain in shoulders.
  • A headache.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes spondylosis?

As getting older, the bones and ligaments in the spine become weak, leading to bone spurs (osteoarthritis). The intervertebral discs degenerate and weaken as well, causing the disc herniation and bulging discs. As a result, you might have some symptoms of spondylosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for spondylosis?

There are many risk factors for spondylosis, such as:

  • Symptoms are often first reported between the ages of 20 and 50. Over 80% of people over the age of 40 have evidence of spondylosis on X-ray studies
  • For people younger than age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among men. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among women.
  • Overweight.
  • Injury or trauma to a joint.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • People who have jobs or do sports that put repetitive stress on certain joints.


Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is spondylosis diagnosed?

Along with physical exam, your doctor may order certain tests to aid in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the spine. These tests include X-ray and MRI or blood test to exclude other diseases.

  • X-rays – the best way to confirm a diagnosis of spondylosis – to look for bone damage, bone spurs, and loss of cartilage or disc. However, X-rays are not able to show early damage to cartilage.
  • Blood tests to exclude other diseases.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show possible damage to discs or narrowing of areas where spinal nerves exit.

How is spondylosis treated?

Initial treatment may include losing weight if needed and then, for everyone, maintaining a healthy weight. It may also include exercise.

Some of the exercises associated with osteoarthritis treatment include swimming, walking, and water aerobics. Exercise may be broken down into the following categories:

  • Strengthening exercises. These exercises seek to make muscles that support the joints stronger. They work through resistance with the use of weights or rubber bands.
  • Aerobic exercises. These exercises make the heart and circulatory system stronger.
  • Range-of-motion exercises. They increase the body’s flexibility.

Including rest periods in the overall treatment plan is necessary. But bed rest, splints, bracing or traction for long periods of time is not recommended.

There are non-drug treatments available for osteoarthritis, including:

  • Massage;
  • Acupuncture;
  • Heat or cold compresses, which refers to placing ice or heated compresses onto the affected joint (check with your doctor about which option, or which combination of heat and cold options, is best for you);
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) using a small device that emits electrical pulses onto the affected area;
  • Nutritional supplements.

There is no treatment to reverse the process of spondylosis because it is a degenerative process. The treatments for spondylosis target the back pain and neck pain that spondylosis can cause.

  • Treatment of pain from spondylosis commonly includes anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics, NSAIDs or corticosteroid injections.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy is often prescribed for chronic back or neck pain for muscle strengthening and stretching.
  • When the nervous system is damaged, or when walking becomes very difficult, surgery will likely be recommended.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage spondylosis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with spondylosis:

  • Using warm compresses and/or ice onto the affected joint.
  • Sleeping with a pillow between your legs.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts undue strain on weight-bearing joints such as your knees, spine, hips, ankles, and feet. Losing weight can ease symptoms of arthritis.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Foods rich in vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids may help. Experts say it’s best to focus on healthy foods rather than on single Make sure your menu includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, and lean meats such as turkey and pork tenderloin. Also, choose healthy fats, such as nuts and avocados, and healthy oils, including olive and canola oil.
  • Do exercise such as swimming, walking, water aerobics. Exercise boosts your energy. It can also strengthen your muscles and bones, and help keep your joints flexible.
  • Sleep well. A good night’s sleep will help you cope with the pain and stress of arthritis. To sleep better, try going to bed at the same time every night, try using pillows to take the pressure off painful joints. If you have frequent sleep problems, talk to your doctor.
  • Try splints, braces, and other aids.Devices that support painful joints, such as splints, braces and canes can help ease your discomfort and prevent injury. Other items such as electric can openers and shower chairs can also help make your everyday life easier.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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