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Understanding spondylosis with the help of the spine care team at Laser Spine Institute St. Louis

For many people, spondylosis can be a confusing diagnosis. This term is often used as an umbrella term to cover most degenerative conditions within the spine — conditions that develop naturally as the spine weakens with age. While this condition seems to have a broad definition, many doctors often use it to describe arthritis of the spine. This is a naturally occurring condition that typically affects older adults, and there are many treatments available to help reduce the pain and symptoms that often accompany this type of diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed with spondylosis, you should consult with your doctor for more clarification. Once your doctor tells you precisely what the underlying degenerative condition is in your spine, you can begin to discuss the treatments available to you.

Types of spondylosis

Because spondylosis represents the natural degeneration of the spine, there are many specific conditions that can fall under this category, though the most common three include:

  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Degenerative disc disease

The specific type of your spondylosis can be confirmed when your doctor diagnoses your condition.

Diagnosing spondylosis

A diagnoses for your condition can be made by scheduling an appointment with your doctor to undergo a series of exams and answer questions about your symptoms. Commonly, your doctor will perform a physical exam by monitoring your pain level and flexibility during certain movements. Sometimes, your doctor will order an imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan, in order to accurately view the damage in your spine and diagnose what is causing your pain.

What causes spondylosis?
Once you and your doctor understand what is causing your spondylosis, you can find the most appropriate treatment option to ease your pain. The most common cause of this condition is the natural aging process that causes the components of the spine to gradually deteriorate. This can be expedited by several factors that contribute to spinal damage, such as:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Repetitive movements
  • Weakened core muscles
  • Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption

As the components of the spine wear down under these factors, inflammation in the joints and bulging in the discs may develop, as well as other damages in the spine. These can lead to a pinched nerve, which can then lead to chronic symptoms.

Symptoms of spondylosis

While spondylosis does not naturally cause symptoms, it can cause a nerve root near the spine to be compressed, which will lead to painful symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning sensation
  • Limited flexibility
  • Stiffness

For many patients, these symptoms can be treated conservatively using a series of nonsurgical methods. While some types of spondylosis cannot be cured, there are many pain relief methods available to help curb the symptoms so you can live a normal lifestyle.

Treatments for spondylosis

Spondylosis treatment can range from conservative to surgical, though many patients are able to find relief without needing spine surgery. The most common methods of conservative treatment include:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching
  • Weight loss
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Hot/cold compresses

If these treatments do not provide pain relief after several weeks or months, your doctor may recommend surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat the symptoms to spondylosis. Our procedures provide patients with many benefits over traditional open neck or back surgery, such as a lower risk of complications and a shorter recovery time.^

To learn more about how Laser Spine Institute St. Louis can help you find relief from spondylosis and other spine conditions, contact us today. Our dedicated team of Patient Empowerment Consultants can help you get a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.