Spondylosis, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, can affect the cervical (neck), thoracic (middle back) or lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine. If vertebrae of the neck are involved it is labelled cervical spondylosis. Lower back spondylosis is labeled lumbar spondylosis.
Cervical spondylosis is a disorder which results from abnormal growth of the bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) and degeneration and mineral deposits in the cushions (cartilage) between the vertebrae. There may be abnormal growths or `spurs` on the bones of the spine (vertebrae). These changes can, over time, press down on (compress) one or more of the nerve roots. In advanced cases, the spinal cord becomes involved. This can affect not just the arms, but the legs as well.
Risk Factors of Cervical Spondylosis
- Aging (60 years and above)
- Past neck injury (often several years before)
- Severe arthritis
- Past spine surgery
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
- Progressive neck pain is a key indication of cervical spondylosis. It may be the only symptom in many cases. Neck pain may radiate to the arms or shoulder.
- Neck stiffness that gets worse over time
- Limited ability to bend the head toward the shoulders and limited ability to rotate the head
- Loss of sensation or abnormal sensations in the shoulders, arms, or (rarely) legs
- Weakness of the arms or (rarely) legs
- Headaches, particularly in the back of the head
In lumbar spondylosis, the spine is compromised by a narrowing of the space between the vertebrae, causing a variety of health problems ranging from back pain to neurological issues. Lumbar spondylosis is also known as lumbosacral spondylosis, lumbosacral spondylarthritis and degenerative vertebral arthropathy.
Risk Factors of Lumbar Spondylosis
This condition is usually caused by old age, as the spine undergoes changes as people grow older, and many of these changes contribute to degeneration of the vertebrae.
Symptoms of Lumbar Spondylosis
Lumbar spondylosis usually produces no symptoms. But some of the common symptoms may be:
- Back pain
- Restriction in back movement
- Numbness, tingling, and pain which seem to radiate out from the area
- Poor bladder control, unsteady gait, and other severe neurological problems (if the disease progresses)
Treatment of spondylosis
The goal of treatment is relief of pain and prevention of permanent spinal cord and nerve root injury.
Conservative treatment options
Your doctor will first try to manage your symptoms with conservative treatment methods involving drugs, physical therapy, cortisone injections, and chronic pain relieving medications. If the pain does not respond to these measures, or there is a loss of movement or feeling, surgery is considered.
Surgical treatment options
There are many different surgical procedures to alleviate the signs and symptoms associated with spondylosis. The vertebral column can be approached by the surgeon from the front, side, or rear. Osteophytes and sometimes portions of an intervertebral disc are commonly removed in an effort to relieve pressure on adjacent nerve roots and/or the spinal cord.
Surgery for spondylosis involves two main components:
- Decompression: removal of what`s causing pain
- Fusion: fusing the spine to control movement
When the surgeon removes tissue that`s pressing on a nerve, it`s called a decompression surgery. Fusion is a stabilization surgery, and often, a decompression and fusion are done at the same time. As you will read below, there are many types of surgeries to treat spondylosis. Your spine surgeon will recommend the best procedure to treat your particular case.
Traditional decompression surgical options for spondylosis include:
- Facetectomy: Facetectomy is the surgical removal of a facet (joint in your spine) to reduce the pressure on a nerve.
- Foraminotomy: Foraminotomy is surgery that widens the opening in your back where nerve roots leave your spinal column. You may have a narrowing of the nerve opening (foraminal stenosis).
- Laminectomy: Laminectomy is designed to remove a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to give the nerve root more space and a better healing environment.
- Laminotomy: A laminotomy makes a larger opening in your bony plate protecting your spinal canal and spinal cord (the lamina).
- Corpectomy (or Vertebrectomy): Occasionally, surgeons will need to take out part of the vertebral body because bone spurs (osteophytes) form between the vertebral body and spinal cord and compress the nerves.
Traditional stabilization surgical options for spondylosis include:
- Spinal Fusion: Spine fusion is a surgical procedure in which vertebrae are joined or fused together. In fusion, the surgeon creates an environment, using a bone graft or a biological substance, where the bones in your spine will fuse together over time (several months or longer). Spinal instrumentation such as wires, cables, screws, rods, and plates may be used to increase stability as the bones fuse. Spine fusion will stop movement between the vertebrae, providing long-term stability.
- Interspinous Process Decompression: Interspinous Process Decompression is performed using an X-Stop which is a special spinal implant that fits in between your spinous processes and should keep them from pinching nerves and causing pain.
- Dynamic Stabilization: In this procedure, spinal implants are attached to the pedicles (a region of your vertebra) to provide a tension band for support and helping you maintain more spinal flexibility and range of motion.
Medical tourism and spondylosis surgery abroad
With any kind of surgical treatment, the cost of the surgery is an important consideration if you do not carry sufficient health insurance. At our partner spine hospitals abroad (like in India, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Costa Rica, Mexico, etc.), spinal procedures are offered at considerably lower prices compared to the cost of treatment at spine hospitals in the United States. And yet, the quality of care (pre-surgery, surgery, post-surgery, physical therapy and follow-up) is comparable or even superior to what is available in America. Healthbase arranges spine operations for spondylosis overseas for 60% to 90% less price than in the US. Apply for a FREE quote for lumbar spondylosis surgery abroad or cervical spondylosis surgery abroad.
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