Lumbar spondylosis (spondylosis deformans, lumbar osteoarthritis), as shown in the image below, describes bony overgrowths (osteophytes), predominantly those at the anterior, lateral, and, less commonly, posterior aspects of the superior and inferior margins of vertebral centra (bodies). Lumbar spondylosis occurs as a result of new bone formation in areas where the anular ligament is stressed. The margins of vertebral bodies are normally smooth. Growth of new bone projecting horizontally at these margins identifies osteophytes. Most osteophytes are anterior or lateral in projection. Posterior vertebral osteophytes are less common and only rarely impinge upon the spinal cord or nerve roots. This dynamic process increases with, and is perhaps an inevitable concomitant, of age. Lumbar osteophytes have long been thought to cause back pain because of their frequency and size. This has led to many studies of the distribution of vertebral osteophytes, not all of which are pertinent. The frequency of signs or symptoms among individuals with osteophytes is no greater than among those individuals without osteophytes.
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