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Spondylosis refers to degeneration of the spine. The term can be used to describe degeneration in the:
Neck - called cervical spondylosis
Lower back - called lumbar spondylosis
Middle back - called thoracic spondylosis
Most often, the term spondylosis is used to describe osteoarthritis of the spine, but it is also commonly used to describe any manner of spinal degeneration.
The patient may have pain from facet joint osteoarthritis, causing pain during times of high activity or after extended inactivity. There could be spinal stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, which is creating leg pain when the patient walks. The pain could be caused by degenerative disc disease, in which a degenerated disc that becomes dehydrated and loses some of its function, causing low back pain or neck pain, and possibly leg pain or arm pain.
Conservative Treatments for Osteoarthritis
Conservative (nonsurgical) treatments that concentrate on maintaining motion in the back are most effective for relieving the pain.
Stretching exercises for the hamstring muscles, hip joints, and the back can usually serve to prevent the pain from getting worse.
For more severe pain, chiropractic manipulations can help relieve pain.
Water therapy can be also be helpful since the joints are unweighted in the water and do not generate as much pain when being moved.
Acetaminophen is an effective and relatively safe non-prescription medication to help alleviate the pain, and some patients find NSAIDs (including COX-2 inhibitors) to be helpful.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
There are two types of spinal stenosis: lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. While lumbar spinal stenosis is more common, cervical spinal stenosis is often more dangerous because it involves compression of the spinal cord
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis vs. Cervical Spinal Stenosis
In lumbar stenosis, the spinal nerve roots in the lower back are compressed, or choked, and this can produce symptoms of sciatica - tingling, weakness or numbness that radiates from the low back and into the buttocks and legs - especially with activity.
Spinal stenosis pain in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis) can be far more dangerous by compressing the spinal cord. Spinal cord stenosis may lead to serious symptoms, including major body weakness or even paralysis. Such severe spinal stenosis symptoms are virtually impossible in the lumbar spine, however, as the spinal cord is not present in the lumbar spine.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back pain and neck pain, and also one of the most misunderstood.
Disc degeneration is actually a natural part of aging and over time all people will exhibit changes in their discs consistent with a greater or lesser degree of degeneration. However, not all people will develop symptoms. In fact, degenerative disc disease is quite variable in its nature and severity.