Explain Spinal Stenosis & Spondylosis

By Carol Wiley

Spondylosis is a general term for degenerative disc disease, while spinal stenosis refers to a specific condition affecting the spaces between the vertebrae.


According the University of Connecticut Health Center, spondylosis "is just a fancy word for osteoarthritis of the spine." Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative disc disease, can cause bone spurs, disc deterioration and/or damage to the facet joints that connect the vertebrae, any of which can cause spinal stenosis.

Spinal Stenosis

You have spaces in your vertebrae where nerves in the spinal cord connect to the rest of your body. Spinal stenosis occurs when these spaces become narrower, which can squeeze the nerves and may cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness or clumsiness in your neck, back, arms or legs.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

The causes of spinal stenosis include arthritis, falls, accidents, and wear and tear on the bones and joints in the spine.


A doctor will diagnose spondylosis or spinal stenosis using your medical history, a physical exam, X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance image) or CT (computerized tomography) scans.


Treatment for spondylosis includes all the typical arthritis treatments, such as pain-killers, physical therapy, massage and exercise. Possible treatments for spinal stenosis include medications, exercise and surgery.

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