Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative disorder in which there is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) and is a common cause of neck pain. This chronic wear on the spine can cause abnormal growths (spurs) on the bones of the spine.

Every day wear and tear may start these changes, especially for people who are active. However, the major risk factor is aging. By the age of 60, most men and women show signs of cervical spondylosis on x-ray.

Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms

Some symptoms include pain over the shoulder blade, or may extend to the upper arm, forearm or rarely, the fingers. Symptoms can develop slowly over time, but have the chance of to worsen suddenly. Pain may be mild, or it may be deep and severe, limiting movement. You may also have weakness in certain muscles and have difficulty lifting your arms or squeezing tightly with one of your hands. Other common symptoms include:

  • Neck stiffness that gets worse over time
  • Numbness or abnormal sensations in the shoulders, arms or (rarely) legs
  • Headaches, especially in the back of the head
  • Reduced reflexes
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of control over the bladder or bowels if there is pressure on the spinal cord

Cervical Spondylosis Treatment

Your doctor and other health professionals can help you manage your pain and stay as active as possible. Cold packs and heat therapy may help relieve pain during flare-ups. Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist, who will give you exercises to strengthen your neck muscles. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help relieve pain, and low doses of prescription medications may help some patients whose long-term back pain interferes with daily activities.

If pain caused by cervical spondylosis does not respond to these treatments, or if you have a loss of movement or feeling, surgery may be done to relieve pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.

Cervical Spondylosis Surgery

Surgical options to help relieve pain caused by cervical spondylosis include:

  • Spinal fusion
  • Anterior cervical discectomy
  • Anterior cervical corpectomy
  • Posterior cervical laminectomy

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