Spondylosis is a medical term for the degeneration of the spine. It is often diagnosed following a stress fracture or misalignment in one of the bones of the vertebra, usually in the lumbar vertebra. Spondylosis is either genetic or can occur following overuse. It is the most common cause of lower back pain in younger athletes and active persons. When the vertebra begins to weaken it can lose its ability to maintain its correct position and begin to shift out of place. A variety of spinal issues can result from this weakening of the spine including fractures, herniations or narrowing of the spinal canal.
Many individuals with spondylosis and/or spondylolisthesis do not display obvious symptoms. The pain is often described as similar to a muscle strain, and the person doesn’t realize the spondylosis is present. Spondylolisthesis can also cause spasms which cause stiffness in the back which pulls on and tightens the hamstring muscles. This can result in posture and gait changes.
Physical therapy and rest will be the first types of treatments used. Taking a break from physical activities until the symptoms go away, is beneficial. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can also work on reducing back discomfort. In some instances, a back brace may be recommended. Usually, physical therapy will be used to help strengthen the muscles of the back. This provides additional support to the spine to protect it and assist healing. The physical therapist will lead the patient to exercises and treatments to relieve discomfort and strengthen the back and educate the patient on how to maintain conditioning at home to prevent further injury. Activities can be resumed slowly as the pain is managed and the exercises begin to show results. Exercises for the abdominal muscles can also assist to help prevent future recurrences of pain.