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Overview

Spondylosis refers to the degenerative changes that occur in the spine. It is also known as spinal osteoarthritis and can be quite painful. The structural alterations may reduce the amount of space between vertebral bodies and can affect the normal movement of the joints. The condition may worsen as a person grows older and can affect neck, thoracic, lumbar or lumbosacral region of spines. Out of all this, lumbar and cervical spondylosis are the most common.

 

What is cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is a age-related condition which affects the joints and discs in the cervical spine of neck.

Cervical spondylosis causes

The wear and tear of bones and protective cartilage in the neck can lead to cervical spondylosis. Some of the spinal spondylosis causes includes:

  • Bone spurs
    Bone overgrowth results when the body tries to grow extra bone to make the the spine stronger. As a result, it press the delicate region of spine and results in pain.
  • Dehydrated spinal discs
    The discs in the spinal bones contains gel-like material which can dry out over time and causes the bone rubbing more which can be painful.
  • Herniated discs
    Spinal discs can develop cracks that lets the leakage of the internal cushioning material. It can press on the spinal cord and nerves and causes pain.
  • Stiff Ligament
    The cords connecting to spinal bones can become stiff over time and affects the neck movement.

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Risk factors

The greatest risk factor for cervical spondylosis is aging. Some other factors that increases the risk are:
  • neck injuries
  • strain on neck
  • holding neck in an uncomfortable position for long time
  • genetic factors
  • smoking
  • Overweight

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis

Some common cervical spondylosis symptoms are:

Pain around the shoulder or arm . The intensity of pain increases while sitting, standing, coughing sneezing etc.

Muscle weakness

Neck stiffness

Numbness in the shoulders and arms

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnosis involves the testing for movement and checking the affected nerves, bones and muscles. It includes:

Physical exam
Physical exam include testing of reflexes, checking for muscle weakness and the motion of neck.

Imaging tests
X-rays for bone spurs and other abnormalities.
CT scan
MRI
Electromyogram to check whether the nerves are functioning normally.

Treatment

Cervical Spondylosis treatment lowers the risk of permanent damage and provide pain relief which helps to lead a normal life.

Physical therapy
Physical therapy involves the stretching of neck and shoulder muscles and helps to relieve pain.

Medications
ome medications can help treat the condition . These include:
muscle relaxants cyclobenzaprine to treat muscle spasms
hydrocodone for pain relief

anti-epileptic drugs, such as gabapentin
steroid injections
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as diclofenac to reduce inflammation

Cervical spondylosis surgery
If the condition is severe and others treatments prove ineffective then only the doctor recommends for cervical spondylosis surgery.

Home treatment
Doing few things at home can help if the condition is mild:
Taking OTC pain reliever such as acetaminophen or an NSAID
Using a heating pad or a cold pack
Regular Exercise
Soft neck brace for temporary relief.

What Types of Doctors Treat Spondylosis?
There are physicians of different specialties such as general practitioners, rheumatologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedists and pain-management specialists who can treat spondylosis. In addition, physical therapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors can also treat it.

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