Definition and causes of Spondylosis
Spondylosis is an age-related degenerative disorder of the spinal column. Between each vertebra there is a cartilage disc (a discus), which absorbs loads and shocks on the spinal column. With age, the load absorption of the cartilage discs deteriorates with the result that the column itself has to take a greater load. This wears on the vertebras which respond by forming a thicker bone layer. This may lead to extra bone protrusions which reduce the spinal maneuverability. There might be pain and in some cases the new bone protrusions may squeeze the nerves where they exit the spinal cord resulting in pain, numbness and weakness in arms or legs.
Symptoms of spondylosis
Some people have no symptoms, despite an X-ray showing obvious changes similar to spondylolysis. Others have severe problems despite an almost normal X-ray. Often the following symptoms are seen:
Pain in the back
Reduced movement of the spine
Pain radiating to arms or legs
Muscle soreness in the muscles around the spine
Sensory disturbances in the arms or legs
Difficulty in controlling the movement of the legs
Precautions and diagnosis of spondylsis
Persons experiencing the above symptoms during a longer period should seek medical assistance. The doctor will first examine the back and will then decide whether there is a need for an X-ray of the spinal column. An X-ray will show if the gap between the vertebras is narrower than usual. In addition, new bone protrusions will show. A MRI scan might be made to see if the nerves or the spinal cord have been affected.
Treatment of spondylosis
Training of the spine: Completely normal exercise and back strengthening exercises have good effects on most. Possibly you can consult a physiotherapist and have the therapist to recommend a training program. The physiotherapists can also relax the muscles which might be sore.
Medicine: You can take a mild pain killer, for example the medication used for common headaches. Many may benefit from taking the medicine during a longer period. The so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) such as Ibuprofen work particularly well. However, persons with a tendency for ulcers, heartburn or acid regurgitation should take this medication with care.
Operation: In severe cases, where the new bone protrusion is very large and squeezing on nerves, it may be necessary surgically to create more space for the affected nerves.
Spondylsis can often be improved with light treatment for example exercise and a back training program. However, as we here talk about permanent changes full healing is not possible. You can prevent the condition from deteriorating by avoiding strenuous work affecting the back, lifting heavy object and twists of the back and also by avoiding sitting in the same position for longer spells.
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