Spondylosis (lumbar, dorsal, cervical): what it is and symptoms

The age reaches everyone and, with it, some problems too. As much as we have the best care for our body and mind, sometimes they suffer wear and tear anyway – and this is normal and human nature.

One of these stresses is when one part of our spine fails to function, overloads another and, thus, ends up affecting the entire structure. These spinal structure failures are called Spondylosis, and you will know a little more about the disease below.

What is Spondylosis and what are its types

Spondylosis is a problem in the spine caused by the wear and tear of its discs, which generates a decrease in the space between each vertebra, causing the famous “ parrot’s beak ” and its characteristic pain. It is a chronic and progressive degenerative disease, that is, if left untreated it can compromise the movements of some members of the body, such as arms and shoulders.

As much as the human spine has 3 main regions, the disease is more common in those that are mobile, that is, the cervical and lumbar region.

Cervical Spondylosis

The cervical vertebrae are part of the neck region and those that are most affected by the disease are the lower 3 at the C4-C6 level.

Lumbar Spondylosis

This type of disease is manifested in the lower back, which carries all the weight of the body, and the most affected vertebrae are at the L5-S1 level. Among women, the most common to be affected are those between L4-5.

Dorsal or Thoracic Spondylosis

The thoracic region of the spine, located right in the middle of the back, is the least affected by spondylosis. When it occurs, it usually does not present symptoms, due to its smaller range of articular movement. But if you do, be aware of local pains and sporadic radiations to the ribs.

What are the causes of the disease?

Changes in the spine characteristic of spondylosis can have several causes, such as advancing age, overweight or due to repetitive work. Below, we explain about some factors that can cause the disease:

Excessive bone growth

As the spine weakens, some bones may overgrow to try to compensate for the spine, making it stronger. However, this overgrowth can occur in delicate areas of the spine, such as the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain in the individual.

Dehydration of the disks

The discs that make up the spine have a type of gel inside and have the function of absorbing shocks of elevation, torsion and other activities. When this gel dries, the movement of the vertebrae can be more painful.

Herniated disc

The internal gel in the vertebral discs can leak through fissures, and when this occurs, there may be pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in symptoms such as numbness in the arm and sciatic nerve.

Spine injuries

If you have ever suffered a spine accident, the sequelae will most likely accelerate the aging process of the structure.

Ligament stiffness

The ligaments between one disc and another can become more rigid over time, which ends up affecting neck movements.

Spine overuse

Repetitive movements or exercises, as well as heavy work, can compromise the function of the spine, due to the fact that they exert extra pressure on it, resulting in premature wear.

Symptoms of Spondylosis

The main manifesting symptom of this disease is severe pain in the spine region. In addition to this, there are other symptoms that also stand out:

  • Pain on both sides of the lower back, which may radiate to the buttocks and back of the thigh;
  • Pain around the shoulder;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Most frequent headaches on the back of the head;
  • Torticollis;
  • Tingling or numbness in some limbs, especially in the shoulders, arms and legs.

How the diagnosis is made

If you have had the above symptoms for more than three months, it is time to visit a spine specialist, who may be an orthopedist or neurosurgeon. During the consultation, he will ask you about the symptoms and perform some clinical tests, such as reflex testing and checking for muscle deficiencies.

In addition to them, other tests may be ordered by the doctor, such as radiography, tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of the spine.

Treatment of Spondylosis

First, you need to relieve the pain. Therefore, the doctor may prescribe medications such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories, in addition to suggesting intense rest. Among the most used drugs in the treatment for spondylosis, are:

  • Muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine , for the treatment of muscle spasms;
  • Narcotics , such as hydrocodone, for pain relief;
  • Antiepileptics, such as gabapentin , to relieve pain caused by nerve damage;
  • Steroid injections, such as prednisone , to decrease tissue inflammation and, consequently, pain.

After this step, physiotherapy sessions can also be recommended to the patient, so that the muscles are strengthened and thus reduce the instability of the spine. However, if the pain still remains extreme and does not subside with the treatment, the solution will be to undergo surgery.

Among the options for surgical treatment are:

  • Laminectomy (removal of vertebral laminae);
  • Foraminotomy (opening of the foramina, opening for the passage of vessels and nerves between the bones);
  • Flavectomy (removal of the yellow ligament, located on the back of the spine);
  • Osteotomy (removal of the “parrot’s beaks”).

Attention! 

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Can I prevent Spondylosis?

There is no effective way to prevent the disease, but some measures can be taken to keep the spine healthy for as long as possible. One way of prevention is to avoid trauma to the spine, such as those caused by repetitive movements and exercises.

In addition, the spread of information about the disease to as many people as possible is also valid.

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