What is cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is a gradual wearing down or degeneration of the cartilage and bones in the cervical spine (joints of the neck). Although it can be caused by injury, the condition is most commonly caused by normal activity.

Over time, the discs between vertebrae may begin to dry and shrink, slip, or collapse, causing the spaces between bone and disc to narrow or collapse. This places increasing pressure on the facets of the bone, which in turn also begin to deteriorate. Cartilage on bone ends may also wear away, eventually resulting in bone rubbing against bone.

To replace support lost from the cartilage, bones often develop new growth called bone spurs. Unfortunately, bone spurs often narrow the passageway for nerves running through the spine. This narrowing, or stenosis, puts pressure on the nerve and can cause severe pain.

Cervical spondylosis is not life threatening, but in some cases it can lead to nerve damage that can be debilitating. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms of nerve compression, such as loss of sensation in the limbs or shoulders, loss of strength or coordination in the limbs, a complete loss of balance, or loss of bladder or bowel control. Also seek immediate care for pronounced weakness in the arms or legs, especially on one side of your body, or abnormal sensations in the limbs or shoulders.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for cervical spondylosis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of cervical spondylosis?

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis include neck pain and stiffness that gets worse over time, occasional headaches, and in some cases pain in your shoulders and arms.... Read more about cervical spondylosissymptoms

CAUSES

What causes cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is a wearing down or degeneration of joints in the cervical spine, that is, the joints of the neck. Although it can be caused by injury, the condition is most common because of the normal activity that comes with age. Over time, the discs between the vertebrae begin to dry and shrink, causing the spaces between bone and disc to weaken or collapse. This places increasing pressure on the facets of the bone, which in turn begin to deteriorate. As cartilage that covers bone ends also wear away, this eventually results in bone rubbing against bone.... Read more about cervical spondylosiscauses

TREATMENTS

How is cervical spondylosis treated?

The most common drugs for pain and possible inflammation from cervical spondylosis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In more challenging cases, like chronic pain, your health care professional may prescribe a narcotic agent or muscle relaxant, such as phenytoin, carbamazepine or a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline.... Read more about cervical spondylosistreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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