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Spondylosis in New Jersey

Backaches and stiffness may be caused by spondylosis, a type of arthritis that occurs in the spine as a result of aging and injury. At Performance Rehabilitation, we offer diagnostic and treatment services for the condition at both our Totowa and Lafayette Township offices in New Jersey.

What is Spondylosis?

Spondylosis is an umbrella term for degenerative arthritic conditions of the spine or put more simply, arthritis. In most cases, degenerative changes in the spine are a normal consequence of aging, similar to grey hair. Everyone is likely to have some degree of spondylosis when they’re older. Indeed, in 90% of adults aged 65 and older, x-rays show signs of arthritis. These changes usually happen in the body of the vertebrae and nerve root openings. When arthritis develops at the joints between the vertebrae, this is known as facet syndrome.

What Causes Spondylosis?

Although arthritis is commonly caused by aging, the condition can actually be seen in people of any age. High-impact athletics, physically demanding jobs and a history of back or neck injury can speed up the development of arthritis. Furthermore, researchers believe that there is a major genetic component to the condition, and it’s well-known that smoking also accelerates spinal degradation.

As people age, the cartilage and bones that make up the spine become worn and damaged. Intervertebral discs, the discs that act as cushions between vertebrae, dry up and become shorter. Spinal ligaments become stiff and less elastic, and bone spurs develop to improve spinal stability. As intervertebral discs dehydrate and shorten, the vertebrae sit too close to one another, leaving too little space for the nerves exiting the spine. In an attempt to compensate for the shortened discs, bone spurs form to increase the distance between vertebrae.

What are the Symptoms of Spondylosis?

Many individuals with arthritic spinal changes report stiffness or aching in the affected area. These people may experience trouble bending or turning their back. Certain motions, including physical activity and staying in one position for too long, may worsen the pain. Headaches can start in the neck, and crepitus, a grinding sound caused during movement, may be heard. Symptoms usually get better after rest, and they tend to be the worst upon waking and at night.

In severe instances, arthritic changes can compress nerve roots, pinching nerves and resulting in pain, weakness and changes in sensation. Pinched nerves are associated with a condition called radiculopathy. People who have this may experience changes in their extremities, depending on where spondylosis is occurring. Degenerative changes can result in spinal stenosis and compression of the spinal cord. When this happens, myelopathy may result. This includes a number of vague symptoms like gait dysfunction, global weakness, sensory changes in the extremities, loss of balance and loss of control over the bladder or bowels.

What Areas are Affected by Spondylosis Pain?

Pain from spondylosis comes in two forms: radiating and localized. Localized pain occurs where two joints rub together or where a nerve is being compressed. This pain can range from mild and tender to excruciating and sharp. Radiating pain moves along a nerve toward the innervated part of the body. This can result in a burning feeling. The parts of the body impacted by radiating pain depend on where the compressed nerve is located:

  • Cervical Spondylosis: Fingers, hands, arms and shoulders
  • Thoracic Spondylosis: Upper back, abdomen and middle back
  • Lumbar Spondylosis: Toes, feet, legs, buttocks and low back
  • Multilevel Spondylosis: When nerves are compressed at several vertebral levels, symptoms can occur in every associated area

How do Doctors Diagnose Spondylosis?

X-rays or MRI may be performed to better understand the condition of your bones and soft tissues.

How can you Manage Spondylosis Pain?

Chronic pain and other symptoms of spondylosis can often be managed with conservative treatments such as hot/cold therapy, pain medication and physical therapy. If the pain is debilitating and persists even after several weeks or months of these treatments, surgery may be an option. Instead of turning to extremely invasive and disruptive open spinal surgery, current best evidence advises seeking the care of a physical therapist. Please contact us today to discover how our orthopedic manual therapy interventions and techniques can help free you from the burden of back or neck pain.

Are you living with neck or back pain and stiffness? You may have spondylosis, an arthritic condition that can be treated at Performance Rehabilitation. Contact us to schedule a personal consultation at our Totowa or Lafayette Township office in New Jersey.