Spondylosis and Ankylosing Spondylitis

Spondylosis and Ankylosing Spondylitis both refer to conditions of joints in the spine. Vertebrae are the small bones that stack on top of each other to form a column of the spine and the material between each vertebra in the joints is called a disc. Discs cushion your vertebrae and allow your back to bend, flex, and twist. Joints and intervertebral discs can be worn out over time or get inflamed from use. Chiropractic care from Clinic 27 could help you deal with this pain. 

Spondylosis can be described as the vertebral joints’ wear and tear that results in the degeneration of both joints and discs, while Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory condition of the joints. Both conditions result in arthritis-like symptoms for sufferers, and while the conditions might feel similar, they have different etiologies and develop into dissimilar outcomes.

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that causes some of the bones in the spine to fuse over time. This fusing of vertebrae makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched posture. It can occasionally affect a person’s ability to breathe deeply.

What is Spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is an umbrella term for age-related wear and tear in the spine that can lead to pain, stiffness and other symptoms. Sometimes this condition might be referred to as arthritis or osteoarthritis of the spine.

What are the symptoms of Spondylitis vs Spondylosis?

These two conditions share many symptoms. It can be difficult to tell them apart based on symptoms alone. For a definite diagnosis, you will need to consult a medical professional.

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

If you suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Soreness in your back
  • Stiffness in your back
  • Pain in your lower back and hips
  • Neck pain and fatigue
  • Tingling in your extremities

The pain is focused on a specific area depending on where the spondylitis is most present. Most people experience the pain from the condition initially in the lumbar and sacroiliac joints, where most of the physical stress on the body occurs.

Symptoms of Spondylosis

Symptoms of spondylosis also affect the spine similarly, but in many cases, people don’t experience any symptoms at all. However, this condition may cause the growth of bone spurs, which impede nerve function by pinching the nerves. At this stage, an individual might start experiencing symptoms.

Some symptoms a person might encounter are:

  • Neck pain that might extend to arms or shoulders
  • Balance problems
  • Headaches
  • Grinding sensation when moving the neck
  • Weakness in arms and legs
  • Numbness in extremities

What causes Ankylosing Spondylitis and Spondylosis?

Doctors are still not sure what specifically causes spondylitis. However, environmental factors and genetics have known to play a vital role in its development.

Some environmental factors that might affect the development of the condition include:

  • Lifestyle
  • Joint injuries
  • Exposure to certain toxins or chemicals
  • Stressful events

Causes of Spondylosis

Doctors believe mainly age and wear and tear of the joints and ligaments cause the discs between vertebrae to deteriorate and result in the joints growing spurs that contribute to the symptoms.


Your Chiropractor will give you a physical examination, take X-rays of your spine and inquire about your medical history. An assessment of the movements of your neck, shoulders, arms and legs along with X-rays (in some cases even an MRI or CT scan) will enable your Chiropractor to determine problem areas and reach a definitive diagnosis.

Treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis

The focus of medical doctors in spondylitis treatment is on relieving any pain that might be experienced. Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed as well exercises to improve mobility. Sometimes steroid injections are administered in spinal joints to reduce inflammation and pain.

Surgery might be the last resort for spondylitis and is only considered or recommended if there is a severe impedance on the quality of life.

Treatments for Spondylosis

Spondylosis is normally treated with ice and heat. A medical doctor might prescribe some anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling along with physical therapy and exercise for improved mobility.

If these steps fail, doctors might try steroid injections into the spinal joints, or surgery – as they do for Spondylitis.

A Chiropractor focuses on prevention via early intervention, in order to reduce (or even eliminate) the need for drugs or surgery.

Chiropractic help for Spondylosis and Ankylosing Spondylitis

Chiropractic is a therapeutic modality that focuses on managing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system, mainly the spine. Chiropractors perform hands-on adjustments to the spine and other parts of the body to correct misalignments, relieve pain and improve function.

Chiropractic treatment also improves the joints’ range of motion and reduces pressure on the spinal nerves due to bone spurs or herniated discs. After a thorough examination and a few diagnostic tests, the chiropractor may recommend one or more of these treatments:

  • Spinal Manipulation: This is where the chiropractor uses quick, hands-on pressure or an activator to realign the vertebrae. Manipulations help improve the range of motion in a person’s back and neck, easing muscle tension, thereby reducing pain. After a chiropractic adjustment, a person feels a marked and immediate difference in level of pain and stiffness. Spinal manipulation is among the most famous therapies recommended for the treatment of lower back pain.
  • Spinal Mobilisation: Spinal mobilisation helps in stretching the spine and decreasing the tension in the muscles between one’s vertebrae with the help of slow, gentle movements.
  • Flexion-Distraction: Flexion-distraction is usually performed on a segmented table. As the chiropractor slowly manipulates the spine, the table moves beneath you, stretching and decompressing the vertebrae. This helps improve mobility, decreases pressure on nerves and discs, and eases pain and stiffness.
  • Massage: This helps with the painful stiffness due to spinal alignment issues. Massage relaxes the muscles of the back and neck while improving blood flow to the area, accelerating recovery.
  • Other Therapies: Your chiropractor may suggest different therapies depending on the diagnosis and condition of your spine like ultrasound therapy, cold and heat therapy, electrical nerve stimulation treatment or trigger point therapy.

All of these therapies have shown great results in treating and managing the symptoms of Spondylosis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. In the case of ankylosing spondylitis, because joints are fused and therefore less flexible, a Chiropractor would avoid forceful manipulation, and focus on keeping soft tissues around a joint mobile, while helping people learn exercises that get them moving more smoothly when performing simple day to day tasks.

The Chiropractors at Clinic 27 are dedicated to helping our clients improve their quality of life by achieving better results, faster. Call Clinic 27 today to start your journey towards total wellness.


  1. Columbia University Department of Neurology: “Cervical Spondylosis.”
  2. OrthoInfo: “Cervical Spondylosis (Arthritis of the Neck).”
  3. Spondylitis Association of America: “Environmental Triggers, the Epigenome, and Disease Progression in AS.”
  4. The Journal of Rheumatology: “Influence of environmental factors on disease activity in spondyloarthritis: a prospective cohort study.”
  5. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston: “Lumbar Spondylosis (Degeneration).”
  6. (2019).nccih.nih.gov/health/chiropractic
  7. Complementary treatments. (2019).spondylitis.org/Complementary-Treatments
  8. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Ankylosing spondylitis.
  9. org/diseases-conditions/ankylosing-spondylitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354808

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