Spondylosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
What Is Spondylosis?
Spondylosis is an umbrella term for the gradual aging and deterioration of the spine.
Spondylosis leads to the disintegration of vertebrae and discs of the spine. It is a progressive degenerative disease that causes wear and tears to the spine. It can cause changes such as bone spurs in the spine or degenerating intervertebral discs.
Difference between Spondylosis, Spondylitis, and Spondylolisthesis
Spondylosis is commonly confused with spondylitis, an inflammation of one or more vertebrae. It is essential to make this distinction as spondylosis is a degenerative disease, while spondylitis is an inflammatory disease.
When a vertebra slips out of place and rests on the one below it and causes spinal instability, it is called Spondylolisthesis. It may put pressure on a nerve, which could cause lower back pain or leg pain.
Causes of Spondylosis
The causes of spondylosis are many:
The leading cause of spondylosis is aging. As we age, we wear down the ligaments and bones in our spine, and the intervertebral discs degenerate and weaken. It is prevalent, and over 80% of people over 40 suffer from it.
- Wrong Posture and Sedentary Lifestyle
The wrong posture can put undue stress on your spine and excessive wear and tear in certain parts of your spine. A sedentary lifestyle can weaken your muscles, especially in your back, abs & shoulders. Your spine can curve unnaturally to compensate for the added stress.
Genetics can play a role in the development of spondylosis. If many people in your family have spondylosis, you have a higher risk factor and a stronger genetic predisposition to spondylosis.
- Injuries and Repeated Trauma
Injuries can be a risk factor for spondylosis. Injuries can cause intervertebral discs to herniate and increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Like sportspersons, people who suffer from repeated trauma to their spine have higher chances of spondylosis.
Other causes of spondylosis are repeated heavy lifting, misalignment of joints, persistent stress on the spine, and spondylolisthesis.
Types Of Spondylosis
Spondylosis is classified into four sections according to which portion of the spine is affected by it. The different types of spondylosis are:
- Cervical Spondylosis
Spondylosis that affects the cervical vertebrae of the neck region is called cervical spondylosis. It is a prevalent type of spondylosis.
- Thoracic Spondylosis
It is called thoracic spondylosis if it affects the thoracic spine (upper and middle back region). It is pretty rare and does not cause symptoms.
Spondylosis that affects the lower back region is called lumbar spondylosis. This is the second most frequent type of spondylosis after cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis that affects below the lower back region (lumbar region) and extends to the midline between the buttocks (sacral area) is called lumbosacral spondylosis.
- Multilevel Spondylosis
As the name suggests, multilevel spondylosis affects more than one particular spine region.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
The most common cervical spondylosis symptom is pain and neck and shoulder stiffness. The pain often increases when you cough, sneeze, tilt your head backward, or stand up suddenly.
In some cases, there can also be headaches. A common symptom is also a stiff neck in the morning or after long periods of inactivity.
In scarce instances, this can result in compression of blood vessels in the brain and cause dizziness or blackouts.
Home Remedies for Immediate Relief for Cervical Spondylosis
Here are some home remedies you can try for immediate relief:
Regular Exercise and Good Posture:
Good posture ensures no postural asymmetry or imbalance that can stress out certain portions of your spine. Regular exercise can strengthen your muscles and reduce the stress on your spine. This reduces the wear and tear on your vertebrae.
However, start your exercises slowly and gently. Stop if there is any pain and consult a physiotherapist.
Hot and Cold Compresses:
Heat pads can help relax muscles and increase blood flow. This can help soothe sore and tight muscles.
If there is inflammation, cold compresses can reduce the swelling. Take care not to use the cold compress for more than a minute.
Massages can help relax your site muscles and improve flexibility. It is better to use lotion or oil when massaging to help ease the movements. While this is not a permanent solution, it can help relieve chronic neck pain in the short term.
Soft Neck Brace:
You can wear a neck brace for short periods for temporary pain relief. Do not wear it for long periods as it can result in weaker neck muscles. You should consult a doctor before it's used.
These are short-term solutions; you should consult a doctor or physiotherapist if the pain persists.
Physiotherapy for Cervical Spondylosis
A physiotherapist assesses the extent of your spondylosis and general health and prescribes a personalized exercise plan. They will safely take you through the exercises to strengthen your neck, shoulder, back, and chest muscles, without any injuries. About 75% of physiotherapy is successful for spondylosis and reduces pain & discomfort.
Along with exercises, a physiotherapist may recommend heat therapy, ultrasound therapy, or electrical simulations to relax and strengthen your muscles as needed. For more information, visit our website.
Consult a doctor immediately if you suddenly feel tingling or numbness in your arms or legs. Get urgent medical care if you lose control of your arms, legs, or bladder.