Spondylosis (from the Greek word spondulos, meaning vertebrae and the Latin/English suffix osis, meaning a process or condition) refers to the degeneration of the spine. It is also referred to as spinal osteoarthritis.
The condition can be used to describe degeneration in the neck (Cervical Spondylosis), the lower back (Lumbar Spondylosis) or the middle back (Thoracic Spondylosis).
Regardless of the specific location, Spondylosis, a chronic, degenerative condition, is closely associated with pain and the natural aging process, as it applies to the spine. It can also be caused by injury.
Spondylosis is a non-inflammatory degenerative condition that leads to the abnormal development of bone around the vertebrae and reduced mobility. The occurrence of symptoms is usually gradual and can be discerned by the incidence of tingling pain radiating down the arms and legs, limited motion and pain in the neck and upper back. The lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) spine are more frequently affected than the thoracic (middle back) spine, because curvature of the thoracic spine stops spondylosis from impinging on the spinal cord. Lumbar and cervical spondylosis have been known to frequently occur simultaneously in the same individual.
Generally, the first step is a physical exam in which a spine specialist will test for movement and flexibility. He or she may ask you to bend your head forward and move it side to side while exerting light downward pressure on the top of your head. Increased pain or numbness during this test is usually a sign that there is pressure on a nerve in your spine.
The next step is likely to be an X-ray of the neck, which will determine if arthritis is present, then perhaps an MRI if the pain is severe and you are experiencing weakness and numbness in your arms and legs.