Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is when there is an age-related wear and tear in the spinal disks of the neck. Over time, the disks would dehydrate and shrink. Osteoarthritis can develop from cervical spondylosis. This condition is very common and it tends to worsen with age. Over 85% of those with cervical spondylosis are over the age of 60. Most people with this condition do not experience any symptoms. However, those who do have signs and symptoms usually experience neck pain and stiffness.

In some cases, cervical spondylosis happens because of the narrowing space that surrounds the spinal cord and nerve roots that passes through the spine to the rest of your body. If the spinal cord and nerve roots become pinched due to the narrowing space, you may experience some painful symptoms such as tingling, weakness, numbness in the limbs, lack of coordination, difficulty walking, and a loss of bladder and bowel control.

Over time, the bones and cartilage of the backbone and neck starts to wear and tear. These damages can include dehydrated discs, bone spurs, herniated disks, and stiff ligaments. There are certain risk factors that increase the chances for a cervical spondylosis. Age poses a certain risk for cervical spondylosis. As you age, you are more likely to get cervical spondylosis- and this is a common thing. Jobs that require repetitive neck motions or awkward neck positioning puts a lot a stress on the neck.

This could increase risk for cervical spondylosis. People with previous neck injuries also increases the risk for cervical spondylosis. Genetics play a small part in this condition. Certain individuals with a family history of cervical spondylosis are more likely to experience symptoms. Smoking has also been linked to an increase in neck pain.

During the diagnosis of the medical condition, the doctor will check the range of motion the of neck, the reflexes and muscle strength of the spinal nerves and cord, and the patient's gait. The physician would also administer imaging tests such as a neck X-ray, CT scan, MRI, and myelography to look for any abnormalities in the neck and spine. Another form of tests that can be done to determine if the nerve signals are traveling properly to the muscles are nerve function tests. These tests include an EMG and a nerve conduction study. An EMG measures the electrical activity in the nerves as they send messages to the muscles. A nerve conduction study is done to measure the speed and strength of the nerve signals.

There are many treatments for cervical spondylosis. Treatment plans depends on the severity of the symptoms. The goals for cervical spondylosis treatment is to maintain one's ability to go through daily activities, relieve painful symptoms, prevent any permanent injury to the nerves and spinal cord. Many over the counter pain relievers can be effective for treating to pain of cervical spondylosis. However, doctors may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants, anti seizure medications, antidepressants, and prescription pain relievers.

Physical therapy has also been known to help neck and shoulder muscles through various forms of stretches and strengthening exercises. Another alternative way that can reduce the pain is acupuncture.

If all of these conservative methods do not help with the pain of cervical spondylosis, the surgery would be the final treatment. Surgery creates more room for the spinal cord and nerve roots, reducing pain and numbness. Surgery for cervical spondylosis involves removing the herniated disk or bone spurs, fusing a segment of the bone graft and hardware, and removing part of a vertebra. If the cervical spondylosis' symptoms are mild, it is easy to relieve the symptoms through simple tactics.

Regularly exercising, taking over the counter pain medications, applying ice packs/heating pads, and wearing a soft neck brace can be done at home to help with cervical spondylosis symptoms.

Continue Reading