Spondylosis Lumbar and Cervical: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The bones in our spinal column are constantly subject to different forces that that result in a great degree of wear and tear. The development of arthritis in between the bones of the spinal column i.e. the vertebra is called Spondylosis.

This condition can affect the bones of the neck or the lower back. The former is called Cervical Spondylosis, while the latter is called Lumbar Spondylosis. Here, we shall take a brief look at both.

What is Spondylosis?

Spondylosis is arthritis of the spine that affects the bone and the cartilage. It can affect any part of the spine, though the cervical spine is the most common site.

Cervical Spondylosis

This condition is caused due to long term wear and tear of the cervical vertebra and the intervening cartilage. It builds up over a long period of time, and can result in compression of the nerves that lie within the spinal canal. This can produce a variety of symptoms that include shooting pains down the arm and shoulder and tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers. The pain is typically worse at night or on sudden movement such as coughing or sneezing.

Other than advancing age, there are other risk factors that lead to cervical spondylosis. These include being overweight, previous injury to the neck and severe osteoarthritis. The condition is diagnosed through an X-ray or an MRI scan. Treatment can include painkillers along with a cervical collar in severe cases. Patients may be referred to physical therapists for different exercises that can keep the joints supple and muscles relaxed. In patients who suffer from psychological issues from pain, cognitive behavioral therapy may be useful.

Lumbar Spondylosis

This condition affects the lumbar vertebra in the lower back. It is characterized by the formation of small bony prominences called osteophytes that compress the nerve fibers and cause symptoms. Again, it is a typical change that is associated with ageing, though it can occur in people who are obese and those who smoke and have limited physical activity.

In most cases, lumbar spondylosis does not produce any symptoms. The diagnosis is one of exclusion, meaning that other causes of back and leg pain such as stenosis of the spinal canal and fibromyalgia need to be ruled out before considering this as a diagnosis.

The diagnosis can be made through an x-ray or a CT scan of the lower back. Other causes of back pain must be treated if discovered. Rest is essential in the early stages. However, if patients develop symptoms such as nerve compression, then surgery may be warranted. This is particularly offered if the pain in the legs and back is not resolved with 2 days of rest.

Conclusion

Spondylosis is an arthritic condition of the spinal vertebrae and its intervening structures. It can affect any part of the spine, though the neck and back are the most common sites. Treatment depends on the site and can vary from total bed rest to physical therapy and surgery.



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