The medical terms "spondylosis" and "spondylothesis" look and sound similar because they are conditions that affect the same place in the human body. Both are maladies affecting the vertebrae in the neck and back, and both can cause pain and loss of range of motion. Always consult your doctor with any medical concerns.
Spondylosis refers to wear on the vertebrae due to aging; therefore, usually it affects those over the age of 55. The most common form of spondylosis is cervical spondylosis, which occurs in the neck and can cause pain and stiffness. Symptoms can include pain in the shoulders, chest and arms, difficulty walking and lack of coordination when nerve compression is also present. Treatments for spondylosis include the use of pain relievers, heat and ice treatments, mild neck-strengthening exercises and, for more serious cases, muscle relaxants or corticosteriod injections. Spondylosis can lead to osteoarthritis in the neck.
Spondylothesis is more serious than spondylosis and occurs less frequently. It is the term for when a vertebra, usually of the lower back, shifts forward on top of the vertebra below. This occurs due to damage or trauma to a joint. This damage may be congenital (present at birth), occur during an accident or be due to overuse or arthritis. Spondylothesis can occur in any age group: children and teens can become injured during sporting practices or events, while adults are at risk of age-related wear. Preliminary treatments involve taking painkillers and resting; more advanced treatments include surgery to remove or fuse bone material.
Spondylosis and spondylothesis may display no symptoms at first, then they may present themselves in the form of neck and back pain. Nerve compression is possible in both cases, resulting in numbness, tingling or loss of bladder or bowel control. Both conditions may be diagnosed with the help of X-rays, and both can be treated with exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected area. Over the counter pain medications, such as ibuprofin, are often prescribed to relieve mild symptoms.