Saturday, October 04, 2008
This is a common observation made by radiologists reading MRI reports of the cervical or lumbar spine. I usually ignore it, but I realized recently that I didn't really know what it meant. So now I do, and soon you will too.
Spondyl- refers to the joints and bone of the vertebral column and -osis means abnormal. Now there's a fancy diagnostic term that really is a non-diagnosis. Do I need a several thousand dollar imaging test to tell an aging someone with back pain that they have an abnormal spine?
More specifically, however, spondylosis is applied to those age-related changes in your backbone that leave you stiff and sore. This is a wear-and-tear sort of phenomenon, that which I used to call osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis. But now I know that -itis means inflammation and, on average, if you're old and degenerating, your collagen and tendons are breaking down in an -osis not -itis sort of way. Therefore, arthrosis(1), tendonosis(2), ligamentosis(3), and degenerative discs(4) leave your vertebrae spurred and misaligned (see x-ray above) and your spinal nerves pinched and complaining.
Spondylosis city here. What a drag it is getting old.
(1) abnormal joints due to cartilage breakdown
(2) abnormal tendons due to collagen breakdown
(3) I'm not even sure that's a word, but if it is, can't you just feel those thickened and stretched old ligaments allowing one vertebra to slip slideways on the next one down?
(4) the spongy, springy collagenous shock absorbers that are no longer so spongy and springy