The term spondylosis is used to describe degeneration of the spine, and there are several different classifications. Cervical spondylosis is degeneration of the cervical spine in the neck, and lumbar spondylosis refers to degeneration of the spine in the lower back. Thoracic spondylosis affects the middle back. In most cases, however, the term spondylosis is used in reference to osteoarthritis of the spine or any amount of spinal degeneration.
Spondylosis versus Spondylolisthesis
While spondylosis refers to degeneration of the spine, spondylolisthesis is a spinal defect that causes the vertebra to slip to one side. Both of these conditions can lead to pain but the causes of the conditions are very different. For example, spondylolisthesis may be caused by a congenital defect, joint damage due to trauma, stress fracture from overuse, and damage by infection or arthritis. Spondylosis, on the other hand, is generally due to the effects of aging.
As the body ages, the ligaments and bones in the spine start to wear, often leading to osteoarthritis. As the discs weaken, herniation or bulging becomes a problem. Spondylosis generally manifests between the ages of 20 and 50, and nearly 80 percent of people over the age of 40 have some degree of spondylosis. Though spondylosis is generally a consequence of aging, certain factors can influence the rate of progression. Genetic factors and injury history, for example, may lead to faster degeneration than an otherwise healthy person might experience.
When to Seek Treatment
Because spondylosis is so common—and because it generally progresses slowly—you may not even notice the symptoms at first. As the condition worsens, however, the pain could become unbearable and might start to affect your mobility. If you experience severe pain, weakness in the limbs, numbness, or loss of bladder control, you need to seek immediate medical attention. The symptoms of spondylolisthesis are very similar to spondylosis, but your doctor will be able to perform certain tests and procedures to identify the cause of the problem.
The key to an accurate diagnosis is a complete medical history and thorough exam. When you come to Jersey Spine Associates for your appointment, be sure to bring your prior medical records with you or have your doctor fax them to our office. To prepare for your appointment, try to think back and make a list of all of your symptoms, making note of when they started as well. This information will be key in differentiating between spondylosis and spondylolisthesis, and will also be instrumental in selecting the right course of treatment.
At Jersey Spine Associates, our team of experts will work closely with you and your surgeon to accurately diagnose your problem to prescribe the best course of treatment. When you choose Jersey Spine Associates, you will be choosing some of the most knowledgeable and experienced medical professionals in the state, not to mention a decorated orthopedic surgeon with many years of experience. Call today for a free consultation or book an appointment online.