Spondylosis: Avoid sedentary lifestyle, doctor advises patients

Spondylosis neck pain

An Abuja based medical doctor, Dr Okezie Emenike, has advised patients with spondylosis to desist from sedentary lifestyle, warning that it worsens the condition.

Emenike gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

Emenike described spondylosis as degenerative changes in the spine such as bone spurs and degenerating intervertebral discs between the vertebrae.

He said that spondylosis was an ageing phenomenon, saying that with age, the bones and ligaments in the spine wear, leading to bone spurs (osteoarthritis).

He also said that the condition could be as a result of the intervertebral discs that degenerate and weaken, which could lead to disc herniation and bulging discs.

Emenike stated that spondylosis was often first reported between the ages of 20 and 50, stressing that over 80 per cent of people above age 40 had evidence of spondylosis.

He also blamed the rate at which spondylosis occur as partly related to genetic predisposition as well as spinal injury history, adding that osteoarthritis was more likely to develop in injured joints.

Emenike added that there are different types of spondylosis such as radiculopathy and myelopathy spondylosis.

He explained that radiculopathy occur when a large disc herniation in the lumbar spine caused nerve compression and pain that originated in the low back and then radiates into the legs.

He also described it as when the sciatic nerve that runs from the low back down the leg to the foot is affected, which is called sciatica that often causes numbness and tingling.

According to him, spondylosis with myelopathy refers to spondylosis that is injuring the spinal cord.

Emenike further explained that a large herniated disc in the cervical spine could cause cervical myelopathy if it was large enough to push on the spinal cord with resulting symptoms of numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and possibly the legs.

He noted that spondylosis does not have a treatment to reverse the process because it is a degenerative process.

Emenike, however, said that pain caused by the condition had many ways of reducing it, such as self-care, exercise and physical therapy, injections, pain-relieving medications and surgery.

“However, surgery is sometimes necessary when spondylosis or spinal stenosis causes a nerve problem that is severe or worsening, progressive nerve damage, or difficulty walking.

“Surgery is rarely necessary for patients with acute back pain,” he said.

He also suggested mild exercise such as walking, sleeping with pillows between the legs for relief of back and neck pain for treating spondylosis.

Emenike also recommended normal or near normal activities, warm compress, massage as well as the use of antidepressant medications to help treat the condition.

He, therefore, enjoined patients with spondylosis to avoid lifting heavy objects, bed rest as these could worsen the condition.

The physician also suggested surgery if the condition caused nerve problems that are severe, progressive or generated to difficulty in walking.

He, therefore, advised patients suffering from spondylosis to seek urgent medical help if they experience loss of bladder or bowel control, numbness in the groin area and if back pain is associated with weight loss and high fever.