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Spondylosis - Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2021

What is the treatment?

Spondylitis is a chronic condition that causes severe back pain, damages the nerves and can even lead to degenerative neurological symptoms. Doctors rarely resort to surgery for the treatment of spondylitis. But in certain cases, spinal surgery for spondylitis becomes essential. Some of the symptoms of spondylitis include chronic back pain, leg pain and in some cases, difficulty in walking.

If other methods of treatment such as injections, physical therapy, and medications have been proven ineffective, then the doctor will suggest surgery. There are many types of surgeries for the treatment of spondylitis. The two main types of surgery are for decompression and stabilization. The decompression method involves removal of the tissue that is causing the pain while the stabilizing surgery fuses the spinal cord in order to grant more control over movement.

The surgery procedures that are available for the treatment of spondylitis include; laminectomy, facetectomy, foraminotomy, discectomy and many others.

The main surgery that is used in the treatment of spondylitis is called a laminectomy. The procedure involves removal of nerves and bones from the spine in order to enlarge the spinal column. This relieves the pressure and also helps to alleviate the pain.

Laminectomy decreases the pressure from the spinal cord by removing some part of the lamina. The lamina is the bony plate that covers the spinal canal and cord. In spondylitis, the lamina could be pressing against the spine, and this pressure leads to severe pain and other symptoms.

What is the cause of Spondylosis?

The root cause of this wear and tear in the protective cartilage is degeneration (aging) or trauma ( any external damage to the spine).

This damages the protective cartilage present between the two facet joints of vertebrates leading to the formation of new spurs. This causes friction between the two resulting in several joint-related disorders, one of them being Spondylosis.

Summary: The only reason behind Spondylosis is degeneration in the protective cartilage due to any form of wear and tear caused by aging or any external damage.

Is Spondylosis serious?

No, in general people find themselves with back pain and weakness when they grow old. In this case, it does not show any signs of pain too but that does not mean it's not there. If degeneration does not get detected on time, it can spread to other regions like the neck, back, and sacrum making it more difficult for the person to move.

Summary: Spondylosis is generally not considered a serious medical problem as it is a side effect of the general aging of the human body.

What is the difference between spondylitis and Spondylosis?

The key difference between both of the bone conditions is the damage they cause to the bone. In the case of spondylitis, one will get diagnosed with joint inflammation. On the other hand in the case of Spondylosis one will get diagnosed with degeneration of bones ( general wear and tear)

Both of the medical conditions cause the same kinds of symptoms to the patient, so it's hard to determine for a layman whether it is damaged or inflated.

Summary: Spondylitis, and Spondylosis look the same as they both are associated with bone damage. But there is a slight difference in them making the condition and its method of treatment different.

How is the treatment done?

A laminectomy is one of the most common surgeries performed on the spine. It is a decompression surgery that helps create space in the spinal canal. The doctor might ask you to avoid eating or drinking for a few hours before the surgery.

For the procedure of laminectomy, the surgeon will administer the patient with general anesthesia. This ensures that the patient is unconscious during the procedure and does not feel the pain. The patient will be able to breathe with the help of a breathing machine.

First, the surgeon will make an opening in the back to expose the spine. The surgeon will then remove parts of the spinal cord such as the vertebra, lamina, and ligaments that are causing the compression of the spine. Once the surgeon creates this space, the spinal canal will be enlarged allowing the process of decompression.

In some cases, the surgeon may have to remove a herniated disc or fuse the spine together using a special implant. This fusion process enables stabilization of the spine and involves widening the openings in the spinal canal for the nerves to exit. However, this is only required for some patients.

Once this process is completed, the surgeon stitches the incision over the spine and closes the wound. When the surgery is over, the anesthesia is switched off and the breathing machine is removed.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

People who are eligible for a laminectomy would include:

  • People who suffer from arthritis of the spine which can lead to spondylosis.
  • Patients who have a herniated disc in the vertebrae.
  • People who have severe back pain and find it difficult to walk due to the condition of spondylosis.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who might not be eligible for a laminectomy surgery could be:

  • People who suffer from other severe health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension; therefore, it is advisable for them not to undergo this surgery unless it is absolutely essential.
  • Patients who are older might not be eligible for this surgery since it can lead to several health complications.

Are there any side effects?

There are a few health complications and risks that could result from a spinal surgery like a laminectomy. However, some of these side effects might not affect all patients. The possible side effects are as follows:

  • Bleeding and infection
  • Trouble while urinating
  • Swelling of the veins in the leg
  • Nerve damage and spinal cord damage
  • Herniated disc
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Quadriplegia or paraplegia
  • The condition does not improve

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There are certain guidelines that a patient should follow after the spinal surgery. After the surgery, the patient is kept under observation for a period of 1 to 5 days. The vitals of the patient are monitored, and any improvement or deterioration is observed.

The patient will experience pain in the back and the affected area for some time. The doctor will prescribe certain medication to relieve this pain. These medications are strong. Hence, it is advisable not to undertake any activity like driving a vehicle, traveling in a plane or riding a bike for a few weeks after the laminectomy.

The patient should keep the incision wound clean and go for a follow up two weeks after the surgery. The doctor will then remove the stitches.

What should be avoided in Spondylosis?

Foods to avoid during Spondylosis:

  • Foods high in fat or cholesterol - red meat, poultry, and dairy.
  • Processed foods.
  • Extra salt.
  • Alcohol and tobacco.

Activities to avoid during Spondylosis:

  • Lifting heavy objects.
  • Improper posture for sitting, standing, walking, sleeping, or lifting things.
  • Skipping medication and exercise.
  • Obesity.
  • Dehydration.

These things may cause more harm to your body leading to further degeneration of the bones.

Summary: As our body degrades due to aging, there are many things that our body is not able to uphold. Avoiding certain foods, and lifestyle choices can help you deal with Spondylosis.

How long does it take to recover?

The recovery process for spinal surgeries is slow; it is better to be patient and wait for your body to heal. Rushing the recovery process might aggravate the condition. It might take a few weeks or even up to several months to fully recover. The patient might not feel any improvement just after the operation. The wound from the incision will take a week or two to heal.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The treatment for spinal surgery in India is very affordable. The price for a laminectomy surgery in India would range from Rs 5,500 to Rs 10,000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

In most cases, the patient does get relief from the chronic back pain. The symptoms of spondylosis are alleviated. However, the symptoms may recur after a period of time. There are some cases in which the condition does not improve and can even deteriorate. The results and improvement are discernible only six weeks after the treatment.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The alternative procedures to a laminectomy are cervical laminoplasty, cervical disc replacement surgery or laser spine surgery.

Is walking good for Spondylosis?

Yes, disk degeneration does not stop you from mild physical exercise. It is good for the body to keep a fitness regime. Walking is one of the safest and most productive forms of exercise as it does not include any kind of damage or pressure to the spine. 10-30 mins a day can keep you healthy and physically active.

Summary: Keeping an active physical regime can help you deal with body degradation. In the case of Spondylosis, walking is one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise.

How do you sleep with Spondylosis?

Sleep is important when it comes to overall health. Without a well-rested sleep, one may feel drowsy and restless all the time. During Spondylosis, one may find it difficult to sleep due to the pain and friction between bones.

For a sound sleep keep your body straight either on the back or stomach, making sure not to curl your leg up on a firm and comfortable mattress. For proper alignment use a thin pillow, sleeping without a pillow or a big one can put the string on your neck.

Other than that, below are the tips that you can use for better sleep:

  • Do not exercise near bedtime, early morning regime may help you sleep better.
  • Warm-up your body, take a hot bath for 20 min to soothe the muscles.
  • Keep your room ventilated, but not too open. Make sure the temperature of the room is appropriate for you, that is not too cold, not too hot.
  • Pull down any shades or places that can be a source of direct sunlight. Keep it dark and silent for the night.

If the patient is snoring, make sure to consult a sleep specialist, it can cause more damage to the spin.

Summary: Having a comfortable and healthy sleep position is very important in case of back problems like Spondylosis. Sleeping in the position as your doctor suggests can help you decrease the level of pain.

What food is good for Spondylosis?

Here is the list of foods that you can eat in case of Spondylosis:

  • Antioxidants Enrique fruits and veggies.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids - salmon, herring, trout, and anchovies, flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts.
Summary: Healthy foods can be a good source of essential nutrients that are required by the body to slow down the degradation process. Having a healthy diet can help you deal with Spondylosis.
Summary: Spondylosis can be described as a medical condition where one will get diagnosed with degeneration of bones ( general wear and tear). This is quite common amongst adults. Untreated or unmanaged Spondylosis can cause further damage to your whole spine, so seek your doctor in case you find yourself aligned with the symptoms.

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Written ByDr. E. Logesh MSPT (Master of Physical Therapy),BPTh/BPTPhysiotherapy
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