When Your Back Hurts: How to Identify and Treat Spinal Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a condition that affects the spine, causing pain and stiffness. It is caused by the wear and tear of the spine over time, which can lead to the formation of bone spurs, herniated discs, and other degenerative changes in the spine. 

Spondylosis symptoms include neck and back pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. In some cases, it can also cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms or legs. 

Spinal spondylosis treatment depends on the condition’s severity and specific symptoms. Non-surgical spondylosis treatment options include activity modification, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants, hot and cold compresses, massage, and traction. Surgery is sometimes necessary to relieve symptoms and restore full functioning.

Symptoms of Spinal Spondylosis

  • Pain in the Back, Neck, or Limbs

Spinal spondylosis is a condition that occurs when the spinal discs, ligaments, and bones in the neck and lower back start to wear down over time. This can cause pain in the back, neck, and even the limbs due to the pressure placed on the nerves in the spine. The pain can spread across the lower back and feel like a muscle strain. 

It can also be worse when coughing or sneezing and can radiate from the neck or lower back into the arms or legs. Additionally, people with spondylosis may experience decreased flexibility and range of motion in the neck or back, numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms or legs, and an unsteady gait.

  • Numbness or Tingling Sensations

This condition can cause numbness or tingling sensations when it affects the spinal nerves. The spinal nerves transmit messages between the brain and the rest of the body. When the bones and cartilage in the can press the spinal nerves, causing them to become compressed, this compression can result in numbness or tingling in the affected area. 

  • Weakness

Spinal spondylosis is characterized by a weakening of the vertebrae, specifically in the pars interarticularis, a thin piece of bone that connects the facet joints of the vertebrae. This weakening can cause cracks in the bone, commonly called pars fractures, which can decrease the spine’s flexibility and range of motion.

  • Limited Range of Motion

Spondylosis can cause a limited range of motion. It is caused by wear and tear on the joints and discs of the spine, which can lead to pain and stiffness. This can cause the spine to become less flexible and reduce the range of motion in the back and neck. 

Diagnosis of Spinal Spondylosis

  • Medical History and Physical Examinations

A medical history records a patient’s past and present medical conditions, spinal spondylosis treatment, and lifestyle. During the physical examination, a doctor will assess the patient’s range of motion, strength, and reflexes. This helps the doctor to identify any areas of the spine that may be affected by spondylosis.

  • Imaging Tests

X-rays can show changes in the spine, such as bone spurs, that indicate cervical spondylosis and can also rule out more serious causes for neck pain and stiffness, such as tumours, cancer, infections or fractures. 

CT scans can also be used to see the bones in more detail if there is evidence of a stress fracture on an X-ray. MRI scans can look for signs of ankylosing spondylitis, such as joint fusion, erosion, and extra bone formation.

  • Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Studies

EMG is a minimally invasive diagnostic study that measures electrical activity produced in a muscle in response to stimulation by a nerve. This electrical activity can be analysed while the muscle is at rest, slightly contracted, and fully contracted. Nerve conduction studies measure the speed of electrical signals travelling through a nerve and can help detect nerve damage caused by spinal spondylosis. 

These tests can help doctors diagnose the condition and determine the best course of treatment for spinal spondylosis.

Treatment of Spinal Spondylosis

  • Non-Surgical Options

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are commonly used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with Spinal Spondylosis. Additionally, analgesics and muscle relaxants may be prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain. 

Physical therapy is also a standard treatment for spinal spondylosis. Physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve flexibility. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding activities that cause pain, and using proper posture when sitting and standing can help to reduce pain and improve mobility.

  • Surgical Options

Decompression surgery, also known as a laminectomy, is a procedure that removes the bony arch, along with any bone spurs and ligaments that are pressing the spinal cord. This procedure relieves pressure on the spinal cord by providing extra space for it to drift backwards. 

Spinal fusion is another surgical option for spinal spondylosis treatment. This procedure involves placing bone graft material between the bones and using metal plates, screws, or rods to help hold the bones together while the bone graft heals. Spinal fusion is used to stabilize the spine and reduce pain.

Prevention of Spinal Spondylosis

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

When a person is overweight or obese, it puts extra pressure on the spine, causing it to weaken over time. When a person loses weight, it takes the pressure off the spine, allowing it to function correctly. This, in turn, can help prevent the development of Spinal Spondylosis.

  • Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can help prevent Spinal Spondylosis by strengthening the muscles and ligaments that surround the spine, reducing joint pain and stiffness, and increasing muscle strength and endurance. 

According to SpineUniverse, exercise can help reduce spondylosis pain by supporting the spine and making movements like twisting, stretching, lifting, and bending easier. Additionally, Medical News Today suggests four main types of exercise – stretches, strength training, aerobic exercise, and relaxation – to improve mobility and reduce the risk of fusion.

  • Proper Posture

Proper posture helps prevent spinal spondylosis by reducing low back pain, improving balance, and providing pain relief. According to Healthline, good posture can reduce low back pain by ensuring that the spine is in its natural position and is not being strained by slouching or sitting in an awkward position for prolonged periods. 

  • Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption

Tobacco use has been shown to have a detrimental effect on bone density, which can increase the risk of developing Spinal spondylosis. Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 3 ounces per day or about 2-3 typical drinks) has also been linked to increased bone loss and can contribute to the development of Spinal Spondylosis.


In conclusion, spinal spondylosis can be debilitating, significantly affecting a person’s quality of life. However, with the proper knowledge and treatment for spinal spondylosis, it is possible to manage the symptoms and prevent further complications. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, seeking medical attention and getting a proper diagnosis is essential. Remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, and follow your doctor’s advice to recover successfully. With the right approach, you can regain control of your life and enjoy a pain-free future.

Pin It on Pinterest