As you age, some amount of spine degeneration is common. Spondylosis is the broad term used to refer to any type of degeneration in the spine. Although technically a form of arthritis, spondylosis is normal, age-related wear and tear to the spinal column, usually present in the lumbar spine. More than 80% of people over the age of 40 have lumbar spondylosis.

Lower back pain is a highly common symptom that requires accurate diagnosis to pinpoint the specific pain generator. If you’re not sure what’s causing your spinal symptoms, contact Desert Institute for Spine Care. We offer diagnoses and treatment for a wide range of spine conditions, including spondylosis.

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Woman rubbing her lower back which has a highlighted area of pain
Dr. Abrams consulting patient
Dr. Josh Abrams consulting a patient

What Is Spondylosis?

Spondylosis is often applied nonspecifically to any degenerative condition impacting the spine’s structures, including the intervertebral disks, vertebrae and joints. However, it’s also another name for degenerative arthritic changes to the spine — spinal osteoarthritis.

As you age, a variety of degenerative changes can occur to the spine’s delicate structures. The gel-filled discs that cushion the vertebrae begin to lose fluid and collapse in height. The ligaments can become thickened and stiff. The facet joints that connect the vertebrae also can fall victim to spondylosis as the cartilage that protects against painful and damaging bone-on-bone contact breaks down.

Spondylosis is common, and some patients who have it experience no pain. However, spondylosis can lead to the creation of painful bone spurs. To preserve the spine’s stability and protect against stress, your body sometimes creates spinal bone spurs, called osteophytes. These bony growths can put pressure on the surrounding spine structures, including nerves and the spinal cord, leading to painful symptoms.

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Where Does Spondylosis Occur?

Spondylosis is a degenerative condition that can worsen over time, resulting in pain and discomfort. It can impact the spine at any level, but is most prevalent in the lumbar region of the lower back. Cervical spondylosis, or age-related wear and tear affecting the neck’s spinal structures, is also very common.

What Causes Spondylosis?

Spondylosis is most often a natural result of aging. However, genetic predisposition and a history of trauma or injuries due to sports or occupations that require hard labor may increase your risk of developing spinal osteoarthritis.

Other common risk factors for spondylosis include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise
  • History of smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Overuse, such as participation in high-impact activities or occupations that result in repetitive trauma
Model of the human spine with irritated joints
Detailed drawings of the spine and other bone areas of the human body.

What Are the Symptoms of Spondylosis?

Spondylosis symptoms and treatment depend on the severity and location of the degenerative changes to the spine.

Patients with lumbar spondylosis have symptoms that primarily generate from the lower back, including:

  • Generalized aches, pain or stiffness.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Tightness.
  • Numbness, tingling, weakness or pain in the legs and feet.

For cervical spondylosis, expect your symptoms to be located in the neck region, such as:

  • Pain that worsens with movement.
  • Generalized aches, tightness or stiffness.
  • Pain that radiates to the shoulders, head or mid-back area.
  • Muscle spasms or discomfort.
  • Headaches.
  • Numbness, tingling, weakness or pain that extends into the arms and hands.
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Spondylosis Diagnosis

Whether you have cervical or lumbar spondylosis, we aim to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment possible. Our Personalized Pain Diagnostics (PPD) allows us to pinpoint your specific pain generator and create a treatment plan that suits your individual needs and lifestyle.

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Treatment Options for Spondylosis in AZ

Whether your spondylosis is located in the lower back or neck region, we work to provide compassionate care based on your symptoms. The orthopedic surgeons at DISC specialize in a wide variety of treatment options and surgical solutions. Many times, spondylosis can be treated with nonoperative treatment, providing pain relief and strengthening the spinal muscles to better stabilize the back and neck. This may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Spine-specialized stretches and strengthening exercises
  • Therapeutic injections

If your condition does not improve or your painful symptoms impact your quality of life, surgical intervention may be recommended. We are leaders in a range of surgical options from minimally invasive procedures to more complex, traditional spine surgeries. One option may be endoscopic dorsal visualized rhizotomy, which can reduce back pain with very minimal surgical risk.

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Dr Abrams explaining spine x-ray Dr. Abrams laughing

Find Leading Doctors Who Treat Spondylosis in AZ

If you are experiencing back pain, take charge of your treatment by visiting one of our locations in the Phoenix area. We want to provide you with relief from spondylosis and help restore your lifestyle. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.


Our spine health blog features up-to-date spine education and expert spine tips from our spine specialists here at DISC.

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