Health Tips

Cervical Spondylosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors & Treatments

Cervical Spondylosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors & Treatments

What is Cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is a very common condition where there is chronic degeneration of the bones, joints, and discs of the neck (cervical spine). This condition is also known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis which most often causes neck pain and stiffness, which worsen with age. Cervical spondylosis is not much of a disease but a natural occurrence that affects a large portion of the adult population.

What are the possible causes of cervical spondylosis?

Some of the possible causes of cervical spondylosis may include the following:

  • Degeneration
  • Osteophytes or bone spurs
  • Dehydrated spinal discs
  • Herniated discs
  • Ligament stiffness
  • Previous neck or spinal injury

What are the signs & symptoms of Cervical spondylosis?

Initially, most people with cervical spondylosis don’t have any significant signs & symptoms. If the symptoms occur, they principally include neck stiffness and terrible pain.

Sometimes, cervical spondylosis results in a narrowing of the vertebral canal through which nerve roots are passed to the rest of the body. If the compression of these nerve roots occurs, an individual might experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain around the shoulder, arms, and fingers
  • Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms, hand, legs, or feet
  • Loss of control over bladder and bowel
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Difficulty in walking
  • A headache

What are the possible complications of Cervical spondylosis?

If cervical spondylosis is left untreated for a considerably long time, the following complications may arise:

  • Cervical stenosis occurs when the neck’s protective spinal column narrows.
  • Cervical radiculopathy occurs due to pinching the nerve roots as they exit the spinal root or cross the intervertebral disc.
  • Cervical myelopathy occurs due to compression of the spinal cord itself.
  • Permanent disability: Constant damage of the vertebrate can make the patient too weak to walk or perform daily activities.

What are the risk factors for Cervical spondylosis?

Apart from age, the following factors can also increase the risk of developing cervical spondylosis.

  • Occupational risk
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor posture with prolonged computer keyboarding and cell phone texting
  • Previous neck injuries
  • Genetic factors
  • Smoking

How to diagnose Cervical spondylosis?

After discussing the medical history and general health, the doctor may conduct a physical examination & several tests to diagnose cervical spondylosis and rule out other possibilities that may cause similar symptoms.

Physical examination involves checking the range of motion in the neck and testing the reflexes and muscle strength to find out if there is any pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. The doctor may also want to observe the patient’s walking to find out if nerve compression is affecting the gait.

To get detailed information and confirm the diagnosis, the following imaging tests may be recommended:

  • Computerized Tomography (CT Scan)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • X-ray of the cervical spine

The following nerve function tests can also be done to determine if the spinal nerve is functioning efficiently.

  • Nerve conduction study
  • Electromyography (EMG)

How to treat Cervical spondylosis?

The treatment goal of cervical spondylosis is to relieve pain and prevent permanent damage to the spinal cord. The treatment for cervical spondylosis depends on the severity of the signs and symptoms, which may include the following:

Self-management: If the cervical spondylosis is mild and doesn’t have any major symptoms, certain lifestyle measures would help to improve the condition, which includes:

  1. Exercising regularly or physiotherapy
  2. Applying heat or cold to the affected area
  3. Placing a soft neck brace or collar
  4. Using a firm pillow

Medication: If over-the-counter pain reliever medicines are unable to reduce the pain, a doctor might prescribe other groups of medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, or pain relievers, to manage and relieve the symptoms associated with nerve damage.

Surgical therapy: If a patient with cervical spondylosis does not respond to the medicinal or other conservative treatment approaches, the doctor might recommend surgery. Surgery might also be proposed if the neurological signs and symptoms worsen. The surgery might involve the following:

  1. Removal of herniated discs or bone spurs
  2. Removal of a part of the vertebra that is affected
  3. Fusing a segment of the neck by using a bone graft

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.