Disease: Cervical spondylosis


    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, signs of osteoarthritis develop, including bony projections along the edges of bones (bone spurs).

    Cervical spondylosis is very common and worsens with age. More than 85 percent of people older than age 60 are affected by cervical spondylosis.

    Most people experience no symptoms from these problems. When symptoms do occur, nonsurgical treatments often are effective.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    For most people, cervical spondylosis causes no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically include pain and stiffness in the neck.

    Sometimes, cervical spondylosis results in a narrowing of the space needed by the spinal cord and the nerve roots that pass through the spine to the rest of your body. If the spinal cord or nerve roots become pinched, you might experience:

    • Tingling, numbness and weakness in your arms, hands, legs or feet
    • Lack of coordination and difficulty walking
    • Loss of bladder or bowel control

    When to see a doctor

    Seek medical attention if you notice a sudden onset of numbness or weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    As you age, the bones and cartilage that make up your backbone and neck gradually develop wear and tear. These changes can include:

    • Dehydrated disks. Disks act like cushions between the vertebrae of your spine. By the age of 40, most people's spinal disks begin drying out and shrinking, which allows more bone-on-bone contact between the vertebrae.
    • Herniated disks. Age also affects the exterior of your spinal disks. Cracks often appear, leading to bulging (herniated) disks — which sometimes can press on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
    • Bone spurs. Disk degeneration often results in the spine producing extra amounts of bone in a misguided effort to strengthen the spine. These bone spurs can sometimes pinch the spinal cord and nerve roots.
    • Stiff ligaments. Ligaments are cords of tissue that connect bone to bone. Spinal ligaments can stiffen with age, making your neck less flexible.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Your doctor will likely start with a physical exam that includes:

    • Checking the range of motion in your neck
    • Testing your reflexes and muscle strength to find out if there's pressure on your spinal nerves or spinal cord
    • Watching you walk to see if spinal compression is affecting your gait

    Imaging tests

    Imaging tests can provide detailed information to guide diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor might recommend:

    • Neck X-ray. An X-ray can show abnormalities, such as bone spurs, that indicate cervical spondylosis. Neck X-ray can also rule out rare and more serious causes for neck pain and stiffness, such as tumors, infections or fractures.
    • CT scan. A CT scan can provide more detailed imaging, particularly of bones.
    • MRI. MRI can help pinpoint areas where nerves might be pinched.
    • Myelography. A tracer dye is injected into the spinal canal to provide more detailed X-ray or CT imaging.

    Nerve function tests

    Your doctor might recommend tests to determine if nerve signals are traveling properly to your muscles. Nerve function tests include:

    • Electromyography. This test measures the electrical activity in your nerves as they transmit messages to your muscles when the muscles are contracting and at rest.
    • Nerve conduction study. Electrodes are attached to your skin above the nerve to be studied. A small shock is passed through the nerve to measure the strength and speed of nerve signals.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    If your spinal cord or nerve roots become severely compressed as a result of cervical spondylosis, the damage can be permanent.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Lifestyle and home remedies

    Mild cervical spondylosis might respond to:

    • Regular exercise. Maintaining activity will help speed recovery, even if you have to temporarily modify some of your exercises because of neck pain. People who walk daily are less likely to experience neck and low back pain.
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) is often enough to control the pain associated with cervical spondylosis.
    • Heat or ice. Applying heat or ice to your neck can ease sore neck muscles.
    • Soft neck brace. The brace allows your neck muscles to rest. However, a neck brace should be worn for only short periods of time because it can eventually weaken neck muscles.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Risk factors

    Risk factors for cervical spondylosis include:

    • Age. Cervical spondylosis is a normal part of aging.
    • Occupation. Jobs that involve repetitive neck motions, awkward positioning or a lot of overhead work put extra stress on your neck.
    • Neck injuries. Previous neck injuries appear to increase the risk of cervical spondylosis.
    • Genetic factors. Some individuals in certain families will experience more of these changes over time, while others will not.
    • Smoking. Smoking has been linked to increased neck pain.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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