Osteoarthritis of the vertebral column

Last revised by Dr Henry Knipe on 15 Dec 2021

Osteoarthritis of the vertebral column, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, is so common that it is widely known as spinal "degenerative change". Complications such as spinal stenosis are important to recognize. 

Radiographic features

Spinal osteoarthritis presents radiologically like other joints with joint space narrowing, osteophytes, and subchondral cysts and sclerosis. Two types of osteophytes are described 2

  • spondylosis deformans
    • bony spurs arising from the anterior and lateral endplate apophyses, which project obliquely or horizontally
    • frequently asymptomatic
    • thought to arise as a stress response on the annular ligament
  • intervertebral osteochondrosis

Differential diagnosis

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