In order to better focus the best type of treatment, patients who have been told they have spondylosis should ask their treating physician several questions for clarification about which part of the spine is degenerating. For example:
- If it is degeneration in the facet joints, then it is likely to be osteoarthritis.
- If it is degeneration of the spinal discs, it is likely to be degenerative disc disease.
Patients should also ask whether or not any related conditions, such as spinal stenosis, require attention. If a person can get these questions answered, he or she is likely to have a better idea of what is causing the pain and thus is more likely to find effective treatments.
Finally, patients who have evidence of spondylosis on an MRI or a CT scan should not assume that their pain is being caused by the degeneration. Spinal degeneration is a natural part of aging, and the patient’s pain may or may not be caused by it.
For patients who have multiple findings listed on their MRI or other diagnostic test results, a finding of spondylosis and other conditions may not mean that there are multiple conditions causing pain. For example, an MRI scan that lists cervical spondylosis and cervical facet degeneration would likely mean a clinical diagnosis of cervical osteoarthritis, which is one condition, not two.