Spondylosis is a degenerative condition that may cause potential loss of normal spine structure and function. Also called spinal osteoarthritis, this condition causes changes in the spine such as bone spurs and degenerating intervertebral discs between the vertebrae. Even though aging is the primary cause, the location and the rate of degeneration depends on and varies from one individual to another. The condition can affect any region of the spine like – cervical (neck), thoracic (upper, mid back), lumbar (low back) or lumbosacral (low back/sacrum). Treatment for this condition initially focuses on non-invasive treatment methods such as pain medications, physical therapy exercises, chiropractic manipulation and spinal injections to reduce the pain, discomfort and stiffness due to this condition. On the other hand, spine surgery will be considered only as a last resort if the pain and other symptoms do not improve with non-invasive techniques. With timely diagnosis and administration of the correct treatment modalities, the symptoms can be relieved to a great extent. Outsourcing medical billing tasks to an experienced medical billing company can help rheumatologists focus on their claim submission tasks and receive correct reimbursement on time.

As per reports from the Cleveland Clinic, spondylosis is present in more than 90 percent of people aged 60 and older. The condition is an aging phenomenon. With age, the bones and ligaments in the spine wear out, leading to bone spurs (osteoarthritis). Also, the intervertebral discs degenerate and weaken, which can lead to disc herniation and bulging discs.Genetics and spinal injuries are expected to increase the chances of developing this specific condition.

Track the Symptoms

Some people don’t experience any specific symptoms. For others, the symptoms involve chronic/severe pain and stiffness which may directly affect their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities. Generally, symptoms are often reported between the ages of 20 and 50. The rate at which spondylosis occurs is partly related to genetic predisposition as well as injury history. Common signs and symptoms include – back pain, neck pain (that may spread into the shoulder or down the arm), muscle weakness, tingling, numbness and weakness in your arms, hands, legs or feet, lack of coordination and difficulty walking and loss of bladder or bowel control.

Seeking Treatment for Spondylosis

Making a correct diagnosis of spondylosis involves testing for movement and determining the affected nerves, bones, and muscles. Physicians will ask questions about the patient’s symptoms and conduct a detailed evaluation of his/her previous medical history. A detailed physical examination will be conducted wherein the physicians will test the patient’s reflexes, check for muscle weakness or sensory deficits, and test the range of motion of the neck and back area. Physicians may also request diagnostic imaging tests like X-ray, MRI or CT scans to determine the type of bone spurs on vertebral bodies in the spine, thickening of facet jointsand narrowing of the intervertebral disc spaces.

There is no specific treatment program to reverse the process of spondylosis, because it is a degenerative process. However, usage of certain modalities like pain medications, physical exercises, spinal injections and surgical interventions can potentially reduce the intensity and severity of symptoms to a great extent.

Rheumatology medical coding involves using the specific ICD-10 diagnosis codes for reporting spondylosis on your medical claims. ICD-10-CM codes used to indicate a diagnosis of spondylosis include –

M47 – Spondylosis

M47.0 – Anterior spinal and vertebral artery compression syndromes

M47.01 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes

  • M47.011 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, occipito-atlanto-axial region
  • M47.012 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, cervical region
  • M47.013 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, cervicothoracic region
  • M47.014 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, thoracic region
  • M47.015 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, thoracolumbar region
  • M47.016 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, lumbar region
  • M47.019 – Anterior spinal artery compression syndromes, site unspecified

M47.02 – Vertebral artery compression syndromes

  • M47.021 – Vertebral artery compression syndromes, occipito-atlanto-axial region
  • M47.022 – Vertebral artery compression syndromes, cervical region
  • M47.029 – Vertebral artery compression syndromes, site unspecified

M47.1 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy

  • M47.10 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, site unspecified
  • M47.11 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, occipito-atlanto-axial region
  • M47.12 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, cervical region
  • M47.13 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, cervicothoracic region
  • M47.14 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, thoracic region
  • M47.15 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, thoracolumbar region
  • M47.16 – Other spondylosis with myelopathy, lumbar region

M47.2 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy

  • M47.20 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, site unspecified
  • M47.21 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, occipito-atlanto-axial region
  • M47.22 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, cervical region
  • M47.23 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, cervicothoracic region
  • M47.24 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, thoracic region
  • M47.25 -Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, thoracolumbar region
  • M47.26 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, lumbar region
  • M47.27 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, lumbosacral region
  • M47.28 – Other spondylosis with radiculopathy, sacral and sacrococcygeal region

M47.8 – Other spondylosis

M47.81 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy

  • M47.811 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, occipito-atlanto-axial region
  • M47.812 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, cervical region
  • M47.813 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, cervicothoracic region
  • M47.814 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, thoracic region
  • M47.815 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, thoracolumbar region
  • M47.816 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, lumbar region
  • M47.817 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, lumbosacral region
  • M47.818 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, sacral and sacrococcygeal region
  • M47.819 – Spondylosis without myelopathy or radiculopathy, site unspecified

 M47.89 – Other spondylosis

  • M47.891 – Other spondylosis, occipito-atlanto-axial region
  • M47.892 – Other spondylosis, cervical region
  • M47.893 – Other spondylosis, cervicothoracic region
  • M47.894 – Other spondylosis, thoracic region
  • M47.895 – Other spondylosis, thoracolumbar region
  • M47.896 – Other spondylosis, lumbar region
  • M47.897 – Other spondylosis, lumbosacral region
  • M47.898 – Other spondylosis, sacral and sacrococcygeal region
  • M47.899 -Other spondylosis, site unspecified

 M47.9 – Spondylosis, unspecified

As spondylosis is a degenerative process, there is no known method to prevent it. However, some measures like exercising regularly, wearing a soft neck brace or soft collar could provide temporary relief fromthe neck and back pain that spondylosis may cause. Medical billing and coding for spondylosis can be complex, as there are several codes associated with the condition. By outsourcing these tasks to an established medical billing and coding company that offers the services of AAPC-certified coding specialists, rheumatology practices can ensure correct and timely medical billing and claims submission.