Spondylosis is a broad term that describes wear and tear on your spine. Spondylosis may be caused by spinal osteoarthritis or any other form of spinal degeneration. If you have spondylosis, your physician will diagnose the precise cause of your pain and working with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Spondylosis can result from any condition that causes the bones or disks of the spine to break down. The wear and tear on the spine can sometimes cause the bones or disks to move out of place. If this happens, compression of the spinal cord or pinched nerves can cause symptoms including:

  • Pain in the back, legs, thighs, neck, or shoulder
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling sensation

Degenerative Conditions May Cause Spondylosis

Spondylosis is commonly caused by:

  • Osteoarthritis affecting the facet joints on the back of the spine. Osteoarthritis causes a weakening of the cartilage. This may result in grinding or instability between the vertebra and the formation of bone spurs. Pain develops when shifted vertebra or bone spurs cause compression of the spinal cord or pinched nerves.
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis resulting from aging or arthritis. As the spine loses flexibility, degenerating vertebrae may shrink or swell, becoming more likely to slip out of place and compress the spinal cord or nerves. This condition is more common in adults over 50.
  • Spinal stenosis, where the nerve roots leaving the spinal cord become compressed by bone spurs. This happens in the foramen, an opening in the vertebra through which nerves travel out to the rest of the body.
  • Degenerative disk disease, a condition that causes the disks cushioning the bones of the spine to lose water and thin. This reduces the space between the vertebrae, putting pressure on the joints between the spine and leaving to compression of the spinal cord or pinched nerves.

Diagnosing and Treating Your Pain

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center’s multidisciplinary team of experts provide personalized spine care, tailoring your treatment plan to the severity of your condition, any discomfort or pain you may be experiencing, and your goals for getting back to the activities you enjoy.  Our initial exam for suspected spinal degeneration generally includes:

  • Taking your medical history to understand when your symptoms began and when your pain or discomfort is most severe.
  • Physical exam performed by our orthopedists to determine where your pain and discomfort is localized.  Physicians may ask you to move and bend your back and limbs in different directions.
  • Imaging tests to examine the spine and nerves themselves using state-of-the-art imaging techniques, which may include:
    • X-ray, which can help determine if your vertebrae are thinning or if a disk or vertebra has slipped;
    • MRI, which uses powerful magnets and computer technology to create a picture of your muscles, tissues, nerves, and disks;
    • CT scan, which combines X-ray technology with computers to provide a very detailed picture of the spine;
    • Nerve test, which can show how well your nerves are functioning, and indicate exactly where there is nerve damage; and
    • Discograms, which involve injections into the disks between your spinal vertebrae to confirm whether a herniated disk is causing your pain.

Patients often find relief from pain caused by spinal degeneration through non-surgical treatments. Your doctor may recommend rest, prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, pain-relieving spinal injections, or physical therapy.

At MedStar Montgomery, our multidisciplinary team of spinal experts will work collaboratively to diagnose your condition, educate you about all of your treatment options, and design a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. The talented physical therapists at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network in Olney work closely with our physicians to provide comprehensive physical therapy services. Our rehabilitation specialists are experts in helping you recover from spine pain.

Make an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a neurosurgery specialist, call 301-570-8554

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