A form of arthritis affecting the vertebrae of the spine, spondylosis occurs from wear and tear on the discs and joints of the spine and may also occur upon the formation of bone spurs. Spinal surgeons and physicians may also call it spinal osteoarthritis. When spondylosis occurs, the patient may feel a great amount of pain. while others may not feel any. Spondylosis can affect all areas of the spine and impede on the spinal nerves and essential functions of the spine.
Types of spondylosis
While cervical spondylosis remains the most common type of spondylosis, spondylosis can affect multiple areas of the spine. Cervical spondylosis occurs when spondylosis affects the upper portion of the spine, closest to the neck. When spondylosis affects the middle of the spine, doctors refer to it using the term thoracic spondylosis. When spondylosis affects the lower part of the spine, doctors refer to it using the term lumbar spondylosis. When spondylosis affects multiple areas of the spine, doctors refer to it using the term multilevel spondylosis.
Causes of spondylosis
The spine plays a vital role in supporting the human skeleton and protecting the spinal cord and the nerves that branch off of the brain and spinal cord. In addition to the framework of the body, the spine supports much of the weight of the body. Studies suggest that each pound of body weight equals 7 pounds of pressure on the spine.
The spine has multiple sections; cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, and the coccyx. 24 moveable bones called vertebrae make up the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine while the sacrum and the coccyx cannot move freely. Between the first 24 vertebrae lay the facet joints and intervertebral discs. Facet joints allow the vertebrae of the spine the move while the intervertebral discs cushion between the joints. Like any arthritis, facet joint arthritis can occur from the natural wear and tear on a persons joints with age. Certain factors can increase ones likeliness to develop facet joint artritis, which adds to the potential of developing spondylosis and stenosis. These factors include:
- Obesity and/or a sedentary lifestyle
- Previous injury to the spine
- Genetic history
- Playing a sport or having a job that requires repetitive motions or heavy lifting
Symptoms of Spondylosis
While some individuals may not experience any known pain or discomfort from spondylosis, others may have marked and even debilitating pain with certain motions. Minor symptoms include stiffness, pain following prolonged sitting, or pain with sudden movement. Severe symptoms include loss of bladder or bowel control, weakness in limbs, grinding or popping within the spine.