Our bodies change as we get older, and this can have a significant impact on our overall health –including the health of our neck and back. Referred to sometimes as arthritis of the spine, spondylosis is part of the aging process. Over time everyone will have this condition, however, symptoms are variable and are not dependent on how “bad” pictures can look. Seeing a lot of arthritis on the X-ray does not correlate with increased symptoms.
The spine is made up of a small system of bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae are separated by discs. These discs prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other, and they prevent the bones from pinching the nerves. As these discs begin to wear down, people will start to develop arthritis in the spine. Where it becomes a problem is when concerning symptoms become present, and could cause progressive neurological damage.
Similar to other conditions, symptoms can vary significantly depending on the scope and severity of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Anyone who develops these symptoms needs to reach out to a doctor as soon as possible for treatment. Early diagnosis is key to preventing permanent neurological damage.
There are several possible reasons why someone may develop arthritis in the spine, including:
There are several risk factors that could make it more likely for someone to develop arthritis of the spine. They include:
There are numerous other risk factors that could make it more likely for someone to develop this condition, and these are just a few of the most common examples.
There are several steps involved in the diagnosis of spondylosis. During the initial consultation with your doctor, a detailed medical history as well as comprehensive physical exam is completed to better understand your specific time-line and triggers of pain.
Once the exam has been completed, your doctor could order imaging scans to take a closer look at the vertebrae and spinal discs. Imaging is key for the proper diagnosis of spondylosis often including x-rays taken of the affected area. And if further evaluation is needed, CT and MRI scans may be ordered.
There are several treatment options that could be tried. Some of the most common treatment options include:
The treatment plan is tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Not everyone who is diagnosed with spondylosis will require surgery.
There are a few ways that individuals can prevent arthritis from developing in the spine. Some of the most important preventative techniques that people need to know include:
These simple changes can reduce someone’s chances of developing arthritis of the spine.
It is difficult to predict prognosis because this is something that needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis with a spine specialist. There are some people who may not notice any appreciable impact on their overall quality of life, but there are also people who may require surgery to help with the recovery process.
That is why it is important for people who are experiencing any of the symptoms above to reach out to a doctor as quickly as possible. The sooner this condition is diagnosed, the faster the treatment process can begin. This can make a significant difference in someone’s overall recovery process.
At Virginia Spine Institute, our spine specialists have an unparalleled level of experience working with patients who suffer from spondylosis. Through out patient-centered, all under one roof model, we are able to provide an elevated level of care in a comprehensive environment for healing. As the largest specialized spine center in the DC-metro region, Virginia Spine Institute is able to provide treatments that other physicians haven’t offered to their patients, all while making it a personalized experience. Because no two journeys are the same, each patient receives the individualized time and attention necessary to properly diagnose and create a treatment plan to achieve their goals for recovery. By selecting this team of specialists, patients have access to cutting-edge, modern treatment options that are not offered elsewhere.
Dr. Niteesh Bharara
Director of Regenerative Medicine
Orthopedic Specialist - Non-Surgical Sports Medicine
“My first appointment with Dr. Haines changed my entire life!”
Reviewed by: Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS.