Instead of indicating a specific diagnosis, spondylosis refers to any condition that results in degenerative changes of the spine. Although spondylosis is most commonly used to denote spinal osteoarthritis, a variety of spinal problems fit the broad criteria for spondylosis.
Facet Joint Osteoarthritis (also known as Facet Joint Disease) accounts for the bulk of spondylosis cases. Facet joints are hinges on the back of the spine where bone meets bone—or in this case, where vertebra meets vertebra. As we age, the cumulative effects of everyday wear and tear may cause the rubbery cartilage that cushions our facet joints to erode. This degenerative process triggers a cascade of pain-generating events, as unprotected bone grinds excruciatingly against unprotected bone.
For example—just as calluses may form to reinforce your fingertips against overuse—your facet joints may develop bony protrusions (known as bone spurs) to compensate for the loss of this protective cartilage. These outcroppings of overgrown bone may impinge upon the space typically reserved for neighboring nerves, causing the characteristic symptoms of pinched nerve pain.