What is Spondylosis?

Spondylosis is a condition marked by general wear and tear on the discs of your spine and neck.

How Does it Happen?

As you age, cartilage can break down, causing you to develop bone spurs on your backbone and neck. The bone spurs are a common cause of spondylosis.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

In general, spondylosis is characterized by changes in your spine and neck. Symptoms include these:

  • Pain and stiffness in your back or neck
  • Pain in your shoulder, chest, or arm
  • Tingling in your arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • Difficulty walking
  • Slow or otherwise abnormal reflexes
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

How is it Diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam and discuss your medical history with you. Then he or she will test your reflexes and check the flexibility in your neck. Imaging tests such as x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be helpful. Your doctor may also suggest a nerve conduction study or an electromyogram (EMG), which measures nerve activity.

How is it Treated?

For mild cases of spondylosis, you may get benefit from wearing a brace or using over-the-counter pain relievers. Applying heat and ice can help alleviate pain as well. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy, which can help you strengthen your spine and neck muscles.

If your condition is more severe, traction may help reduce the stress on your nerves. Other options include taking prescription muscle relaxants or painkillers and getting a pain management injection near the affected discs.

If these options don't seem to work, or if you have nerve damage, you may require surgery. The procedure you need will depend on the underlying problem, but in most cases, surgery can help relieve the pressure on your spine.

What is the Prognosis?

In many cases, you can manage this condition through pain medication. If surgery is required, you may need a few weeks to recover and you still may experience some of the symptoms.