If you suffer from persistent backaches and neck pain, you may be diagnosed with spondylitis. Spondylitis refers to degenerative changes of the spine, such as the formation of bone spurs and degeneration of spinal discs. This condition can affect the neck, upper or mid back and lower back. Of these, spondylitis of the neck- cervical spondylitis and lower back- lumbar spondylitis are most common.
Spondylitis is considered to be triggered by age. As a person grows older, the wear and tear of the bones and ligaments of the spinal column can lead to the development of bone spurs and osteoarthritis. Age can also cause the discs between vertebrae to weaken and degenerate leading to bulging discs and herniating spinal discs. Most people experience the first symptoms of spondylitis between the age of 20 and 50. A family history of spondylitis and being prone to injuries also increases a person’s risk of suffering from spondylitis.
Since spondylitis is a degenerative disease, there is no cure for this condition. However, the pain associated with it can be managed. Thus, treatment for spondylitis is very similar to treatment for neck or back pain. This treatment can be in the form of pain medication, exercise, physical therapy and minimally invasive surgery. Depending on the extent of spinal damage the doctor may prescribe steroids that need to be injected directly into the intervertebral spaces. This is also known as epidural injections.
Spondylitis patients are often advised to follow their normal schedule and refrain from bed rest as this can prolong recovery. However, at the same time, you should not undertake any activity that puts additional pressure or stress on the spinal column. Alternating between warm and cold compresses can help relieve the pain associated with spondylitis. Additionally, try sleeping with a pillow between your legs to relieve low back pain.
Special pillows that offer cervical support can help relieve spondylitis of the neck.
Surgery may be considered in cases where this condition causes or worsens nerve damage. Spinal decompression surgery involves relieving pressure on the nerves in the spinal column that may be caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis. This surgery can be performed through a laminectomy, discectomy or foraminotomy. Bone spurs in the spinal column or a vertebral disc can also be removed surgically. However, these surgeries are rarely performed as most patients respond well to non-surgical treatments.