What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Sometimes referred to as cervical osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis is a condition that affects the discs, vertebra, and the joints in the upper spine and neck area, as a result of the normal wear-and-tear associated with aging. As we age, the discs in our cervical spine will begin to breakdown over time. Considering that these spinal discs are made up mostly of water, as we age, they will begin to dry out and begin to flatten. This is similar to what happens during degenerative disc disease.
As this degeneration wears on, bone spurs will start to form along the spinal area and certain abnormal growths known as osteophytes – these can cause spinal stenosis to occur – the narrowing of the spinal columns and openings of the spine for the spinal nerves.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
The main cause of Cervical Spondylosis is aging, and the normal wear-and-tear that occurs over time, as we age. The condition is most common in the elderly, and middle-aged men and women who have some history of spinal issues.
The most common risk factors include:
- Advanced Age (over 50)
- Poor posture
- Prior spinal injury or trauma.
- Weight lifting
- Occupational lifting
- Those who take part in sports where the spine or neck may be impacted, like football or even gymnastics.
The most prominent symptoms for Cervical Spondylosis are similar to that of degenerative disc disease, as well as spinal stenosis caused by the resulting compression. They include:
- Neck pain & stiffness
- Pain radiating from the upper back and neck, to the shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Lack of mobility in the neck and upper body.
- Grinding sound with neck movement.
Spinal Compression Symptoms
- Tingling or burning sensation in the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs.
- Numbness or weakness radiating throughout the neck, arms, and legs.
- Muscle spasms.
- Incontinence – Loss of bladder and bowel control.
- Poor coordination, poor walking & lack of overall mobility.
Generally, these symptoms will improve with some rest, however they will often appear again shortly after.
The majority of Cervical Spondylosis cases are relatively mild, and therefore do not require invasive measures. But more severe cases are possible, and surgery might be the best option for such patients.
Non-Surgical Options include:
- Medications – Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Steroid Injections – Corticosteroids into he spinal joints or into the facet joint.
- Brace or Cervical Neck Collar – To limit movement of the neck.
While it is often chronic, the condition is rarely progressive and therefore usually will not require surgery. However, surgery may be required to relieve the compression of the spine or to provide stabilization.
- Decompression Surgery – To relieve the compression on the spine or nerves.
- Stabilization Surgery – Can be done using implants or in conjunction with spinal fusion surgery.
- Disc Replacement – Can help replace a worn or damaged disc.
For more information on Cervical Spondylosis, other spinal issues, or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Arutyunyan today.