Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition that affects the cervical spine. More specifically, it affects the spinel discs in the cervical (neck) region. It also goes by the name of cervical osteoarthritis, and is primarily caused by the wear and tear of the spinal discs that comes with aging.
This condition causes the sufferer to be subject to symptoms like pain and stiffness in the neck.
Additionally, spondylosis in the cervical region may affect the spinal canal, narrowing the space through which the spinal cord and nerves pass, causing them to become compressed. Spinal compression then leads to a series of other complications and symptoms.
Causes of Cervical Spondylolisthesis
While aging itself cannot be attributed to the onset of cervical spondylosis, the changes that occur in our body due to aging can trigger this condition.
Some of these changes include:
- Slipped discs. When a disc becomes herniated, the gel-like nucleus of the disc may slip out of its protective shell. This may cause change in the spine, leading to misalignment and ultimately to other spinal conditions, including cervical osteoarthritis.
- Disc degeneration. The wear and tear that comes with time may lead discs to lose some of the water content from the nucleus, causing them to shrink.
- Bone spurs may appear due to facet joint degeneration. These are bony formations that appear on the surfaces of bones may place increased pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that are attached to it, and also lead to the onset of spondylosis.
Additionally, cervical osteoarthritis may worsen over time and lead to other issues such as cervical spondylotic myelopathy. This is a condition where the spinal cord becomes compressed in the cervical region of the spine. It can lead to a series of symptoms, including pain, weakness, numbness and stiffness in the neck.
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There are certain risk factors associated with a person developing cervical spondylosis.
The main one is aging. Over our life, the bones in our body, including those in our spine, wear down due to the physical stress they had to bear over the long period of time that we have been alive for.
Another major factor is represented by neck injuries. Having suffered an injury in the cervical region of the spine at some point in the past, increases a person’s chances to develop spondylosis in that region.
Other risk factors include:
- Working in a job that requires intense physical activity and which places pressure on the neck
- Having a high body weight
- Genetic factors
Cervical spondylosis may not necessarily cause symptoms in everyone who suffers from it. However, those who experience symptoms, may have any of the following symptoms of cervical spondylosis:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Pain may also spread down the arm
- Stiffness and/or weakness in the neck, that may spread to the arms/hands
- Muscle spasms in the cervical region
- Sometimes loss of bladder or bowel control symptoms do occur, but mostly in more extreme cases of this condition
- Occasionally sufferers may experience headaches that have cervical spondylosis as the cause
Because cervical spondylosis may get worse with time, it is highly recommended to seek medical advice from a qualified medical professional and obtain a diagnosis, and then seek appropriate treatment.
The diagnosis process usually starts with a physical examination, where the patient will also be asked about his/her medical history, as well as about any injuries or other activities that might have contributed to the set of symptoms the sufferer experiences.
In order to confirm whether you suffer from cervical osteoarthritis or spinal cord compression, the specialist might also ask the patient to have additional tests done, including MRI scans or CT scans.
The treatment modality for cervical spondylosis typically depends on the severity of the patient’s symptoms as well as preferences. However, it is recommended to always start with the least invasive treatment option and work one’s way up from there if the patient does not respond to more conservative forms of treatment.
With that being said, here are some of the treatment options available for cervical osteoarthritis:
- Anti-inflammatory medication to temporarily relieve pain
- Muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms
- Physical therapy to help the patient regain spinal mobility and gain long term pain relief
- This should only be considered for the most extreme of cases, as more often than not it causes more problems than the patient had to begin with.
Alternatively, you can try our approach:
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