Cervical spondylosis is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in your neck. As the disks dehydrate and shrink, bone spurs and other signs of osteoarthritis develop.
Cervical spondylosis is very common and worsens with age. There also appears to be a genetic component involved because some families will have more of these changes over time, while other families will develop less.
More than 90 percent of people older than age 65 have evidence of cervical spondylosis and osteoarthritis that can be seen on neck X-rays. Most of these people experience no symptoms from these problems. When symptoms do occur, nonsurgical treatments often are effective.
In most cases, cervical spondylosis causes no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically affect only the neck — causing pain and stiffness.
Sometimes, cervical spondylosis results in a narrowing of the space needed by the spinal cord and the nerve roots that originate at the spinal cord and pass through the spine to the rest of your body. If the spinal cord or nerve roots become pinched, you may experience:
When to see a doctor
As you age, the bones and cartilage that make up your backbone and neck gradually develop wear and tear. These changes may include:
Cervical spondylosis is degeneration of the bones and disks in the neck, which can lead to a variety of problems, including herniated disks and bone spurs. ...
Risk factors for cervical spondylosis include:
If your spinal cord or nerve roots become severely compressed as a result of cervical spondylosis, the damage can be permanent.
Preparing for your appointment
You'll likely first bring your concerns to the attention of your family doctor. Depending on your signs and symptoms, he or she may refer you to a physical therapist or to doctors specializing in spine disorders or orthopedic surgery.
What you can do
What to expect from the doctor
Tests and diagnosis
During the exam, your doctor will check the range of motion in your neck. To find out if there's pressure on your spinal nerves or spinal cord, your doctor will test your reflexes and check the strength of your muscles. He or she may want to watch you walk to see if spinal compression is affecting your gait.
Nerve function tests
Treatments and drugs
Treatment for cervical spondylosis depends on the severity of your signs and symptoms. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain, help you maintain your usual activities as much as possible, and prevent permanent injury to the spinal cord and nerves.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Mild cases of cervical spondylosis may respond to:
Last Updated: 2012-06-12
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