Spondylosis is age-related wear and tear that affects the spinal disks primarily in your neck or low back. Generally presenting in people over the age of 60, most people experience little to no symptoms, and when symptoms are present a nonsurgical approach is often quite effective.
In most cases, the only symptoms are pain and stiffness. Rarely, spondylosis can cause a narrowing of the space in the spinal cord. If this happens, you may experience:
- Tingling, numbness, and weakness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Lack of coordination and difficulty walking
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
As this is an age-related degeneration, you may develop herniated disks, bone spurs, and stiff ligaments. Jobs involving repetitive neck motion, awkward positioning, or overhead work may have an increased likelihood of developing spondylosis.
At your visit, your doctor will perform a physical exam to:
- Check range of neck motion
- Test reflexes and muscle strength
- Observe gait
You may be sent for imaging tests to provide more detailed information on your diagnosis, such as X-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs. Nerve function tests may be required such as electromyography and a nerve conduction study.
Your treatment will vary based on your symptoms and the severity of any pain. You’ll also likely see a physical therapist to help strengthen and stretch the muscles in your neck and shoulders or lower back. If over-the-counter pain medications are not working, you may be prescribed:
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-seizure medications
Rarely, should your symptoms worsen, you may need surgery to create more room in your spinal cord and nerve roots. Should surgery be necessary, your health and spinal problem are carefully considered to determine the best approach to returning you to the best quality of life as quickly as possible. Your surgery may include:
- Removing a herniated disc or bone spurs
- Removing part of the bone or ligament causing compression
- Fusing a segment of the neck or low back