What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical Spondylosis is arthritis in the neck. It is a degenerative condition involving the intervertebral discs and bones in the cervical spine. Cervical Spondylosis is an age-related illness that is associated with normal wear and tear of the joints in the cervical spine. Arthritis in the neck is an extremely common ailment that generally affects people over the age of 60. Spondylitic changes may occur in the preceding decades of life, however. As the disease progresses, it can lead to compression of cervical nerve roots and the spinal cord, which is an emergency situation so early diagnosis is key.
What Causes Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical Spondylosis is ultimately a consequence of ageing. As we age, the intervertebral discs begin to dehydrate and lose some height, while no longer providing the shock absorption and freedom of movement that they provided in younger years. Age also causes the bones of the spinal column to deteriorate in much the same way as in any other arthritic joint. This can lead to loss of protective articular cartilage and bone spur formation. The formation of bone spurs is your body’s attempt to replace bone that wears away. The ligaments of the spine also become stiff and less flexible as we age which is another contributing factor. Increased age is by far the most common cause of Cervical Spondylosis. Some other contributing factors may be:
- Occupational factors, such as a prolonged period of high physical activity on the job
- Trauma to the joints of the neck
- Poor posture
- Not getting adequate sleep
- Genetic factors
- Decreased nutrition
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What are Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis?
The symptoms that you may experience if you are diagnosed as having Cervical Spondylosis are:
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Grinding noise when rotating the neck
- Loss of range of motion of neck area
- Numbness, weakness, and tingling in the upper extremities
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of bowel and bladder control in advanced cases
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Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis
Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis will be unique to you and based on how much pain and dysfunction that you are experiencing. In the vast majority of cases, Cervical Spondylosis treatment will not require surgical intervention. A course of physical therapy is often enough to help relieve pain and increase function. The goals of physical therapy will be to strengthen the muscles of the neck and surrounding structures and provide range of motion and flexibility exercises. Proper posture and body mechanics education are crucial with this disease in order to stop the progression. Pain relieving modalities may also be offered in physical therapy such as electrical stimulation.
Other than physical therapy, medications will be considered as well in order to relieve pain and inflammation. These could consist of prescription pain relievers and muscle relaxants. Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs and Tylenol may only be needed when pain and dysfunction are minimal. Steroid injections and wearing a cervical collar for a time may be recommended as well. Surgery is infrequently indicated for the treatment of Cervical Spondylosis unless compression of the spinal cord is found.