Brief Outline of Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis is a chronic degeneration of the vertebrae of the neck (cervical spine) and the intervertebral cushions or discs. Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are bony projections that form along joints and are often associated with arthritis. Such spurs themselves can rub against nearby nerves or occasionally on the spinal cord causing pain and limitations in joint motion. The degeneration results from wear on the bones of the cervical spine over time.
Anatomy and physiology
Aging and repetitive stress can cause discs of the spine to become drier and less elastic. Such degeneration may cause discs to bulge or in some cases, rupture. When the surrounding ligaments bevome less flexible, the vertebrae develop bone spurs – new areas of bone growth along the margins of existing bones.
Cause of Cervical Spondylosis
Repetitive wear on cervical vertebrae. Excessive and improper weight lifting. Bulging or herniated cervical disc.
Signs and symptoms
Neck pain radiating to shoulders and arms. Loss of balance. Headaches radiating to the back of the head.
Complications if left cervical spondylosis unattended
Cervical spondylosis is a common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in older adults. If the condition isn’t treated, the injury may progress and become permanent. Bone spurs or herniated discs can impinge and put pressure on the roots of one or more nerves of the spinal cord in the neck, producing tingling, burning, weakness or numbness in the arms or hands. Displaced spurs can also float in the system, periodically interfering with joints.
Treatment for cervical spondylosis
Rare and severe cases may require surgery.
Rehabilitation and prevention
Less serious cases of cervical spondylosis respond to exercises with physical therapist, aimed at strengthening and stretching neck muscles. Low-impact aerobic exercises including walking or swimming may also help. While age-related spondylosis may be difficult to prevent, minimising high impact activity, engaging in upper body training and attention to posture may help avoid the injury.
Mild cases of cervical spondylosis respond well after immobilisation of the injury and appropriate physical therapy. More serious cases may require injections of anti-inflammatory agents between the vertebral facet joints or in some cases, surgery to remove bone spurs, particularly if they have broken off from larger sections of bone to become loose bodies.