As we age, the joints and the discs present in the cervical area (neck) degenerates gradually, and the condition is termed as cervical spondylosis, also known as cervical osteoarthritis. The shrinking and dehydration of the cervical discs lead to osteoarthritis. It is estimated that more than 85 percent of people aged above 60 years are suffering from cervical spondylosis.
Your spine consists of vertebrae, discs, spinal cord, and nerve roots. With increasing age, the spinal discs tend to dehydrate and then get damaged. When your vertebral bones try to regenerate by itself, it causes overgrowth, leading to the formation of abnormal outgrowths called bone spurs. The chronic conditions may cause severe pain and stiffness. However, many people with cervical spondylosis can perform their daily activities.
In most of the people, the condition causes no signs and symptoms. The symptoms of cervical spondylosis primarily include neck stiffness and severe pain. Rarely, the condition may result from narrowing of the vertebral canal through which the nerve roots are passed to the rest of your body. If compression of these nerve roots occurs, then you may experience the following:
Consult your doctor immediately when you observe the above symptoms.
If your cervical spondylitis is very mild and doesn’t have any severe symptoms, certain lifestyle measures would help you to prevent the condition. These include:
The causes of vertebral degeneration in cervical spondylosis include the following:Dehydrated spinal disks : The spinal discs serve as cushions between the vertebrae of the spine. It consists of a gel-like substance that absorbs shock from twisting or any other activities. In older adults, these disks dry out and shrink which allows your vertebra to rub on each other causing pain.
Your doctor recommends the treatment based on the severity of the signs and symptoms. The therapeutic goal is to relieve pain and prevent permanent damage to your spinal cord. Your doctor might recommend any of the following therapies.Medication : Your doctor might prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin; corticosteroids such as prednisone; muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine; anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin; antidepressants; or pain relievers such as oxycodone. All these drugs help to relieve pain caused due to nerve damage.
The initial diagnosis includes physical examination, where your doctor assesses the range of motion in your neck, the way you walk, and also tests your reflexes and muscle strength. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor might order the following tests.Imaging tests
An X-ray of your neck and vertebrae are obtained to identify the abnormalities. It is also helpful to rule out other serious conditions causing neck pain.
The computed tomography scan provides a complete view of your bones and helps to diagnose cervical spondylosis.
MRI scan will help to identify the areas where the nerve roots are compressed.
Myelography is minimally invasive diagnostic procedure that involves injecting a dye into your spinal canal and X-rays were taken to obtain the detailed spinal structure.
Your doctor might recommend nerve function test to detect the abnormalities while transmitting the nerve signals to your muscles. These tests include:
The factors that increase your risk of developing cervical spondylosis are listed below: