What is Multilevel Spondylosis?
Spondylosis, a common condition, is a general term for degeneration of the spine. Most doctors use this term to refer specifically to arthritis of the spine, or spinal osteoarthritis, an inflammation resulting from the age-related degeneration of the cartilage that cushions the joints. Spondylosis can affect more than one region of the spine. Lumbar spondylosis affects the lower back, thoracic spondylosis affects the middle region of the spine, and cervical spondylosis affects the neck area. Moreover, more than one segment, or level of the vertebrae in any of these regions can be involved. When multiple segments, or levels of the spine are involved, the condition is termed multilevel spondylosis.
Because it affects several vertebrae, multilevel spondylosis can be more severe than degeneration that affects only one. Spondylosis may result in restricted mobility and pressure on nerve roots and possibly on the spinal cord. This could lead to neck and/or low back pain, arm and leg pain, paresthesias (needles and pins), and muscle weakness. Pressure on the spinal cord can also lead to global weakness, loss of balance, difficulty with coordination, gait dysfunction, and loss or bladder and bowel control.
In most cases, spondylosis is the result of normal wear and tear of the spinal joints. As the body ages, intervertebral discs desiccate (lose water content) and become less elastic. Spinal ligaments begin to tighten, stiffen, and hypertrophy, and joints between the vertebrae begin to degenerate. Though degenerative spondylosis is almost always unavoidable, a healthy lifestyle may help to delay its onset. Genetics also plays a role in some cases, as spondylosis may be hereditary.
Physical therapy and pain medication are often used to treat spondylosis symptoms, and in severe cases, spinal surgery is a potential spondylosis treatment option. Today in appropriately selected patients, minimally invasive surgery, such as endoscopic procedures and possibly even laser spinal surgery, may provide safe and effective alternative therapies for spondylosis and other spinal problems. Make sure your surgeon has experience with all standard and advanced techniques for treating spondylosis and other spinal conditions.