What It Means When Your X-Ray, CT Scan or MRI of the Spine Shows Spondylosis

physician reviewing x-ray with patient

X-Rays, CTs or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common diagnostic technique used to identify a broad range of conditions, including those of the spine. These noninvasive procedures can take anywhere between 10 to 60 minutes depending on the complexity of the patient’s condition.

If your imaging test reveals that you have spondylosis, or any medical condition of the spine, you probably have a lot of questions. That’s where Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics comes in. Home to the only group of medical experts in Northern New Jersey qualified to diagnose and treat all areas of the spine, we’re here to explain what it means when your x-ray, CT, or MRI shows spondylosis.

Understanding Your Diagnosis

Spondylosis is defined as the degeneration of the backbones and is a very common cause of back pain starting as young as age thirty. It is caused by osteoarthritis that can affect any part of the vertebral bone, spinal discs, or facet joints. Osteoarthritis is the inflammation of bones, joints or cartilage caused by trauma, fractures and gradual wear and tear. This inflammatory cascade causes the surrounding structures to break down, leaving sharp boney edges and bone spurs that result in joint pain or a pinched nerve. Spondylosis is discoverable on any radiographic image when a patient has neck pain or back pain and expected to have a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or another degenerative disc disease.

In many cases, spondylosis does not cause any significant symptoms, but when it does, they can include the following:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Clicking or popping in the neck
  • Muscle spasms
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty with coordination

Spondylosis is visualized on a X-ray, CT scan or on an MRI, by expertly trained neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons such as those found at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics. They will identify whether the symptoms the patient is experiencing correlates with the findings seen on the images or are incidental.

When to Start Treatment

When the patient has discomforting symptoms that correlate with the same level of the spine in which spondylosis exists on radiographic imaging, it’s a sign for both the physician and patient that it’s time to address the condition with treatment. For many patients diagnosed with spondylosis, their condition will only require regular, physical exercise, physical therapy, or conservative pain management treatment options such as the following:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications are often effective in relieving the pain and inflammation of spondylosis and other spinal conditions.
  • Corticosteroids: There are a wide range of steroidal injections available, including epidural steroid injections, that locally place this anti-inflammatory medication, minimizing the systemic effects of oral steroids.
  • Muscle relaxants: These drugs are used to relieve the muscle spasms associated with spondylosis and are categorized into two groups: spasmolytics and neuromuscular blockers.
  • Physical therapy: By working with a physical therapist, receiving therapeutic modalities, and doing targeted exercises, patients can improve their mobility and spinal function and find relief from pain.

Under severe cases, Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics may recommend surgical treatment. Whatever the case, our team of expert physicians will thoroughly explain your imaging results, whether spondylosis or a different spine condition is contributing to your symptoms of neck or back pain, and which treatment options may be the best avenues forward for your unique condition.

Receive Care from the Experts

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with spondylosis, allow our team of experts to answer all of your questions and start you on a viable treatment plan. To learn more or request an appointment, contact Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics in Northern New Jersey today.

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