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Learning about spondylosis with help from Laser Spine Institute Philadelphia

Laser Spine Institute defines spondylosis

Spondylosis is the term that some medical experts use to describe general age-related spinal degeneration, which can account for the aches and pains that many of us associate with getting older. Additionally, some medical professionals may use the term to specifically refer to spinal osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease. The spinal degeneration that causes spondylosis usually begins around middle age, when years of enduring the body’s weight begin to take a toll on the spine.

How is spondylosis diagnosed?

Only a physician can determine whether or not spondylosis is the cause of your neck or back pain. To do this, he or she may ask you to describe your symptoms, as well as your medical history to see if you or any family members have experienced back pain, since genetics are believed to play a role in certain conditions associated with spondylosis. Your physician will likely then conduct a series of tests to check your range of motion, and may even order a medical imaging test, like an MRI, CT scan or X-ray, to get a closer look at your spine and confirm your diagnosis.

Why does spondylosis occur?

As we age, the components that make up the spine gradually deteriorate — much like other parts of the body. Because the lumbar (lower) area of the spine is responsible for bearing most of the body’s weight, it is most prone to aging-related degeneration. Additional factors that may cause the spine to degenerate include obesity and participation in high-impact sports. Individuals with jobs that involve repetitive lifting or twisting motions, long periods of sitting, and exposure to vibrations (for example, long-distance truck drivers and machine operators) might also experience more severe and faster spinal degeneration than others.

What symptoms does spondylosis cause?

Some individuals with spondylosis only experience neck and back stiffness, mild aches and pains. For others, more severe symptoms can develop, especially when spondylosis results in the compression of a nerve root or the spinal cord. Nerve root and spinal cord compression can cause numbness or tingling, localized and radiating pain, muscle weakness, difficulty walking and loss of fine motor skills in extreme cases.

What does treatment for spondylosis involve?

Spondylosis treatment usually begins with a combination of conservative treatment aimed at controlling the patient’s symptoms. A course of conservative treatment for spondylosis may include pain medication, epidural steroid injections, exercise and physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and weight loss, if necessary. Furthermore, some individuals choose to explore alternative methods of treatment, like chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage therapy, on their own.

Is surgery an option for spondylosis?

Because many patients are able to find lasting relief through conservative and alternative methods of treatment, surgery for spondylosis is usually only recommended in the event that several months of these treatments are ineffective. Patients who need surgery for spondylosis should consider the many options available to them, including the minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Our procedures offer reduced risk of infection, less surgical blood loss and shorter recovery time^ as compared to traditional open spine surgery. This is because our advanced techniques prevent muscle from being excessively cut or torn. To consult with our physicians about the benefits of undergoing minimally invasive, outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today. Our team can provide you with a no-cost review* of your MRI to determine if you are a candidate for our procedures.