By: Nikki Clayton, PT, DPT, ATC

Spondylosis is a problem with the spine. It is a general term that may include issues such as:

Click to learn about Spondylolysis.

MRI Image of Spondylosis showing deformity in the spinal column. JOI RehabMRI images of Spondylosis

Areas affected by Spondylosis

Spondylosis can involve multiple structures in the spine 

  • Intervertebral Disc
  • Nerve Structures
  • Facet Joints

Click to view this video on the Anatomy of the Spine.

What Causes Spondylosis?

Spondylosis can be from spinal disc degeneration and loss of spinal disc space. JOI RehabDisc bulge from disc degeneration

Spondylosis can come from excessive wear and tear in the spine. Some of the changes can be a normal part of the aging process. Other changes may be due to:

  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Sedentary job
  • Extreme physical activity
  • Trauma or injury

Degenerative Disc Disease

With age, the discs in the spine lose fluid, causing the disc height to decrease. The discs begin to dry out and become weakened. When this happens, the bones sit slower together and the spaces where the nerves exit become smaller. Disc degeneration can cause problems with the nerves.

What is Arthritis of the Spine?

Wear and tear that causes inflammation in the joints of the spine. Degeneration of the discs results in increased pressure on the facet joints. This increased pressure causes the cartilage of the facet joints to wear away. When the joints become damaged, they can become inflamed. With severe arthritis, the cartilage can completely disappear and bone spurs may begin to form. 

What are the Symptoms of Spondylosis?

Spondylosis can cause pain, stiffness, numbness, weakness, and limited functional independence.Symptoms of Spondylosis

Symptoms of Spondylosis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Loss of muscle strength

Your symptoms will depend on where the Spondylosis is affecting your spine. Spondylosis commonly occurs in the neck and the low back. The neck supports the weight of the head throughout a wide range of movements, This makes it more susceptible. The low back is also prone to develop spondylosis because it supports and distributes a majority of the body's weight.

More severe symptoms of Spondylosis can lead to nerve compression and loss of normal daily function. Some emergency symptoms to be aware of are:

  • Intolerable pain
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Weakness in a specific muscle pattern
  • Loss of feeling
  • Inability to stand
  • Pain that wakes you at night

If you have any of these symptoms you should see your doctor immediately.

How is Spondylosis Treated?

Conservative treatment is used when possible to treat spondylosis.

  • Pain medications: Anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants
  • Physical therapy: Use of specific exercises that will help relieve pain, increase mobility, increase strength and flexibility in spinal muscle to better support the spine and promote improved posture and relieve nerve compression in your spine. 
  • Soft tissue massage: To release tension in the muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Heat pack: To promote increased blood flow to target area to promote increase oxygen and nutrients to involved area
  • Cold pack: To reduce circulation to help control inflammation, decrease pain and muscle spasms
  • Electrical Stimulation:  To reduce sensation of pain and muscle spasms
  • Bracing: Temporary treatment option used to help take pressure off spine, control pain by limiting motion, and help relax muscles. Long term use not recommended as muscles will start to "depend" on brace and cause muscles to weaken

Surgery for Spondylosis

There are cases when surgery is needed to correct issues form Spondylosis. If a patient does not respond to physical therapy or injections/meds, surgery may be needed. Surgery may be used to open the space in the spinal canal that may be limited by bone spurs or arthritis. Is cases of severe disc degeneration, a spinal fusion may be needed to stabilize the segment and limit movement. 

A spinal fusion is a procedure that placed hardware and bone graft to permanently fuse 2 spine bones together.  The image is of the STALIF M TI device.Image of Spinal Fusion Hardware

To learn about Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery, Read the Article.

Related Links:

To make and appointment with a JOI Spine Specialist, call (904)JOI-2000, schedule online or click below for an appointment. To see a JOI Rehab Therapist in 1 of our NE FL locations, call (904)858-7045.



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