What is spondylosis, and how is it treated?

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints among adults and some studies have shown that almost 80% of adults will experience back pain at some point in their life.

We’re sure you’ll agree that the aging process is no fun. That’s especially true when faced with degenerative conditions of the spine like spondylosis.

Let’s find out what it is, and how you can reduce pain and continue your normal activity.

Spondylosis: What Is It?

Spondylosis is the general term to describe the degeneration of the spine. This can happen in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as you get older.

Spondylosis vs. Arthritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe conditions that cause painful joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis.

Wear and tear over a lifetime causes the cartilage between two bones to disappear. With less or no cartilage, the bones can make contact, causing pain.

On the other hand, spondylosis is osteoarthritis that’s found specifically in the spine. It’s often called spinal osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease

There are 33 bones that make up your spine. Each of these has a disc set between them. These act like cushions that protect your spine and make it flexible.

The bones of your spine are connected by facet joints. These are the joints that suffer from spondylosis as the protective cartilage surfaces disappear.

Spondylosis is a degenerative condition that can affect any part of the spine, including the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and lumbosacral region. 

Risk factors include age, previous neck injuries, or genetic factors. If your occupation requires repetitive movements or heavy lifting then you are also at risk.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Spondylosis?

Spondylosis can affect the joints anywhere along the spinal column. However, it is most commonly found in the neck and lower back.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 85% of those over the age of 60 have cervical osteoarthritis.

It has also been estimated that over 80% of those over the age of 40 may have lumbar spondylosis in the United States. Although many have no symptoms.

Common symptoms can include:

  • Stiffness – Especially after sitting or sleeping for a prolonged time.
  • Paresthesias – Numbness or tingling in your hands or legs.
  • Limited range of motion – This will be noticed in the affected joints.
  • Pain – If a bulging or herniated disc pinches the spinal nerve, it can cause radiating pain. Depending on where the spinal cord is compressed will determine whether the pain will be felt in the arms or the legs.
  • Myelopathy – The condition is characterized by global weakness, gait dysfunction, loss of balance, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

How Is Spondylosis Diagnosed?

Imaging tests are effective ways to diagnose spondylosis. 

They include:

  • X-rays are used to measure the extent of arthritis or injuries to the bones.
  • MRI scans check your spinal nerves and look for problems in the intervertebral discs.
  • CT scans can be used to check your spinal canal, bones, and joints.

What Is the Best Treatment for Spondylosis?

The best treatment for spondylosis will depend on the severity of your signs and symptoms.

Regardless of your treatment, the goal is to relieve pain, help you continue with your usual activities, and prevent permanent injury to the spinal cord and nerves.

Physical Therapy

Non-surgical treatments can be done by a physical therapist. They can teach you exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

Some people with cervical spondylosis can reduce neck pain using traction. With the use of weighted pulleys, space is opened up within the spine. This can relieve pinched nerve roots.


Spinal surgery is only recommended when conservative treatment fails or if neurological signs and symptoms get worse. Surgery will create more room for your spinal cord and nerve roots.

The surgery might involve:

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

You may get some mild pain relief by trying the following:

  • Regular exercise – Physical activity aids in recovery. You may have to adjust some of your exercises to avoid neck pain.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers – Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen may provide pain relief associated with cervical spondylosis.
  • Cervical collar – Using a neck brace for short periods will allow your neck muscles to rest.

Would you like help managing spondylosis? Call the orthopedic specialists for help!

Visit OrthoNeuro+NOW Orthopedic Urgent Care!

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Spine Surgeon Today!

If you have been experiencing symptoms of spondylosis, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Spine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. 

Spine Care Specialists


“I recently had surgery on my lower back. I had heard that such surgery would result in pain and cause me difficulties in doing ordinary daily tasks but, I experienced no pain and was able to do normal activities at home and at church. Also, being a bee keeper, I was able to work the hives and extract the honey from most of the hives”

James B.