Since spondylosis is related to general disc degeneration and osteoarthritis, it is difficult to “cure.” However, a range of spondylosis treatment options exist to alleviate spondylosis symptoms.
A number of physical therapy approaches can potentially improve your spondylosis-related symptoms, including applications of a hot or cold pack, a guided course of exercise designed to improve your back strength and resilience, back massage, physical therapy, or electrical stimulation or ultrasound devices that ease pain and calm spasms.
If you have cervical spondylosis, a physical therapist may also recommend a neck brace or traction in order to temporarily ease the burden on the damaged portion of your spine.
Two types of medications often play a role in basic spondylosis treatment: nonprescription or prescription anti-inflammatories (commonly known as NSAIDs) and muscle relaxers. If you have severe spondylosis-related pain, your doctor may also recommend a short course of an opioid painkiller. People with serious problems may also receive localized injections that contain anti-inflammatory medications called corticosteroids (such as an epidural steroid injection) or some type of anesthetic.
Improvement of spondylosis may require certain lifestyle modifications. For instance, if you smoke, quitting will typically lead to a significant improvement in your general bone health. If you’re overweight and/or don’t take part in regular physical activity, you will often receive a benefit from the combined effects of eating a healthier diet and gradually increasing your back-safe activity levels. If your occupation repeatedly exposes you to neck or back stress, you may need to consider ergonomic adjustments to protect your back, or even shifting to a new line of work.
Some people see an improvement in their spondylosis after visiting a chiropractor. In addition to offering basic forms of physical therapy, these practitioners may perform spinal adjustments designed to reposition any misaligned spinal bones. Some people also see some improvement after visiting an acupuncturist.
Your doctor may recommend spine surgery if your spondylosis rapidly grows worse, initially appears in an unusually severe form or fails to improve after the use of multiple non-surgical treatments. The type of spondylosis surgery recommended will depend on the nature and location of your specific symptoms. Options may include a minimally invasive procedure such as nerve ablation (deadening the nerve) to help control symptoms, or a more aggressive procedure such as an artificial disk replacement to alleviate pain from a damaged disc.
If you have been diagnosed with spondylosis, the best step toward proper treatment is to get a second opinion. North American Spine offers a free medical review of your MRI or CT scan.