The Doctor Says I have Spondylosis, What Should I do?

Here’s the scenario. Your on the older side, and your back or neck has been bothering you a little more than normal. At your most recent doctor’s visit, you figured you would mention it. They decided that it may be worth getting an x-ray, so that’s exactly what you did. Now, your doctor’s office has called you to tell you that the radiologist says that you have spondylosis in your spine. “What the hell does that mean?”, you think. Sound familiar?

What is spondylosis?

Spondylosis is just a fancy term that doctors use to describe arthritis of the spine. It can be in any part of the spine including your neck or lower back. For whatever reason, we as doctors tend to over complicate things sometimes, and this is one of those times. When arthritis occurs in the spine, the discs tend to shrink down which causes extra stress on the bones. Now, when bones feel extra stress in arthritic conditions, they tend to make new bone in a haphazard kind of way. This creates bone spurs. So what do these bone spurs do? Most of the time they don’t do anything, and you don’t even know that you have them. However, sometimes the bone spurs start poking the nerves in your back or neck and this can cause pain.

Should I be worried about my spondylosis?

The short answer to this question is no. About 60% of people aged 40-59, and over 90% of people aged 60-79 have some evidence of spine arthritis or spondylosis without any pain! This goes back to what I always say that arthritis is an objective finding, you can see it on X-ray, but pain is a subjective finding, meaning that it’s a lot more complicated. You may have arthritis in your neck or back and no pain whatsoever! In that case, it’s usually OK to ignore it. However, if you do notice that you’re losing hand dexterity, having trouble walking, or have an unrelenting pain shooting down your arm or leg, then you may want to start exploring your options for treatment.

I hope I was able to help you learn about your spondylosis. If you still have questions, I encourage you to contact me.

-Written by Dr. Daniel Paull

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