Spondylosis is an umbrella term for different forms of age-related degeneration of the spine. The bones of the spine are called the vertebrae. Between each pair of vertebrae, there are three joints. There is a joint in the front of the spine that is called an intervertebral disc. There are two joints in the back of the spine, which are called facet joints. These joints are made of cartilage and cushion the bones. Ligaments are around the spinal column and connect the vertebrae together. These help to support the joints and bones. As people age, their bones, discs, cartilage, and ligaments change. Bone spurs (abnormal overgrowth of bones) may develop, discs may dry and crack, cartilage may wear out, and ligaments may thicken. These age-related degenerative changes are all forms of spondylosis.
Spondylosis is caused by wear and tear on the components of the spine. The major risk factor for developing spondylosis is age. In fact, by age 60 most people will show signs of spondylosis on X-ray.
Typically, non-operative measures are effective in treating the symptoms associated with spondylosis. Non-operative measures include pain medications and physical therapy.
However, if spondylosis has resulted in compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure.
The type of surgery required varies depending on the cause of the spinal cord compression. The neurosurgeons at the Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York are skilled at determining the best treatment for each patient and each situation.