Cervical spondylosis is a common degenerative disease that gets more acute with age. It is also known as neck arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis.
Cervical spondylosis is present in more than 85 percent of people older than age 60. This condition may cause pain and stiffness in the neck for many people, but others with cervical spondylosis may never have any symptoms.
What causes cervical spondylosis?
Dehydrated spinal discs
The discs between spinal bones are usually thick and pad-like cushions. These disks help in absorbing the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities. Over the years, the gel-like material inside these discs dries out. This can lead to your bones rubbing together, making it painful.
Spinal discs that act like cushions between the vertebrae of your spine can develop cracks, allowing leakage of the internal cushioning material. This material could press on the nerves and spinal cord and will result in arm numbness and pain radiating down the arm. Spinal disks start drying out and shrinking as you age, allowing more bone-on-bone contact with vertebrae.
With age, spinal ligaments can become stiff, making your neck lose its flexibility.
A bone spur is a bony lump growing off a bone. Bone spurs can develop over more extended periods. When the cartilage in joints of vertebrae in your spine begins to degenerate and the bone tissue tends to run against other bone tissue, abnormal bone growth happens. The growth is along the edges of the vertebrae. These growths are, however common as you age.
What are the risk factors of Cervical spondylosis?
Aging is the greatest risk factor for cervical spondylosis. The condition often develops as an outcome of changes that happen to your neck joints as you grow older. Dehydration, disc herniation, and bone spurs are all results of aging.
But there are certain factors other than aging that can increase your risk of cervical spondylosis. These include the following
- Being inactive and overweight
- Injuries to the neck
- Holding your neck in an uncomfortable position for long periods of time
- Genetic factors
- Jobs that need repetitive neck movements and awkward positioning
- Normal part of aging
When should you see a doctor?
You should seek medical attention when you notice a sudden onset of weakness or numbness or loss of bowel control or loss of bladder. You should also visit a doctor if you have pain in your upper limbs and severe excruciating pain.
Overview of the treatment for Cervical Spondylosis
The treatment for cervical spondylosis is dependent on the severity of your symptoms. The main goal of the treatment is to provide relief to the pain, help maintain your usual activities as much as possible. The right treatment can also help in preventing permanent injury to the spinal cord and nerves.
Medication like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is used over the long term to treat cervical spondylosis. Sometimes, doctors also give anti-seizure medications that inhibit pain pathways to reduce the pain, when the nerve is damaged severely. The mental pain and distress that is caused by the condition can be treated by cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling, which is aimed at helping to understand the cause of the pain and how to continue the normal life with this condition.
If you would like to know more about the treatment options available for cervical spondylosis, you can consult Dr. Surya Prakash, a renowned spine surgeon in Hyderabad. He has more than two decades of experience in treating various spine orders.