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What Is The Difference Between Cervical Spondylitis & Cervical Spondylosis?

When dealing with spinal problems and back issues, the terminologies can be confusing. Spondylitis and Cervical Spondylosis are two different disorders with certain same characteristics matching each other. But they have some unique differences.

Although many patients often get confused between these two diseases as they sound like and share similar symptoms, the inflammation from spondylitis can be more severe. Both the terminologies refer to prefix “spondy” meaning vertebral or spinal column.

What Is The Difference Between Cervical Spondylitis & Cervical Spondylosis?

Both are chronic and degenerative conditions lessen the range of motion and significantly impact the usual routine. Spondylosis and spondylitis share many common symptoms including bladder and bowel movement.

Spondylosis is one of the common conditions of older people whereas spondylitis is noticed even in people who are 45 years or younger. Spondylitis perhaps causes chronic back pain and this disease is typically diagnosed through blood tests.

Both cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylitis are treated through nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and indomethacin. However, certain medicines of spondylitis such as antirheumatic drugs are not effective in treating cervical spondylosis. In certain cases, it can even cause serious side effects. If your pain is not manageable seek immediate medical attention.4

Cervical Spondylitis: Cervical spondylitis is a type of arthritis affecting the region of the neck and spine causing pain and stiffness. This is perhaps a lifelong condition that typically begins from your lower back. Spondylitis is a progressing disease that can spread to your neck, hip, and damage several bones in the body.

Although cervical spondylitis causes mild to moderate pain however there are rare conditions of spondylitis such as ankylosing spondylitis, a complex disorder causing some severe difficulties when not properly treated. Most conditions can be well managed by appropriate therapies and proper treatment plans.

Initial signs and symptoms of cervical spondylitis include pain and stiffness in the lower back usually when you wake up from bed or after periods of no activity. The symptoms may worsen, stop, or prolong based on the patient’s health condition. These symptoms occur as a result of nerve compression from the spinal cord or spinal roots or both.

There is no specific test to determine and diagnose the condition however x-rays and MRI scans identify the presence of inflammation on the lower part of the back and the upper part of the hip. Based on the diagnosis, the treatment will be carried out. The treatment for cervical spondylitis typically includes anti-inflammatory drugs that can relieve pain, inflammation, and stiffness.1

Cervical Spondylosis: Cervical spondylosis is age-associated with wear and tear of the spine affecting the spinal disks and neck. The bone degeneration affects the spine movement and nerve functionalities. Aging is the main cause of spondylosis and usually affects middle-aged and older people. Patients older than 40 are mostly affected by this condition.

The primary complications of cervical spondylosis include low back and mid back pain and inflammation. If left untreated, the recurring infection can diminish the range of motion when you bend over, twist, or turn. Severe cases of spondylosis patients will receive monthly disability benefits.

The right exercises will help you feel better and improve your symptoms. Your health care provider will suggest gentle exercises such as water therapy or aerobic exercises for your muscles and joints to be healthier 1,3


  1. Binder, Allan I. “Cervical Spondylosis and Neck Pain.” BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), BMJ Publishing Group Ltd., 10 Mar. 2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1819511/
  2. “Spondylitis vs. Spondylosis: Are They One and the Same? MySpondylitisTeam.” MySpondylitisTeam My Spondylitis Team, myspondylitisteam.com/resources/spondylitis-vs-spondylosis-are-they-one-and-the-same
  3. Driver, Catherine Burt. “What Is Spondylosis? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Surgery.” EMedicineHealth, EMedicineHealth, 13 Aug. 2019, emedicinehealth.com/spondylosis/article_em.htm
  4. Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis, Spondylitis & Spondylosis: Conditions with Confusing Names https://www.huffpost.com/entry/conditions-with-confusing_b_11594592

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 19, 2022

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