What is it?Cervical Spondylosis AKA cervical osteoarthritisis the result of age related progressivedegenerative changes in the cervical spine,inclusive of disk degeneration, facet arthropathy,osteophyte formation, ligamentous thickening andthe loss of cervical lordosis. Narrowing of thespinal canal, also known as Spinal Stenosis maydevelop as a result of the spondylotic changes.The spinal cord and/or nerve root functions maybe negatively affected, resulting in symptoms ofmyelopathy or radiculopathy.
Who and whenCervical spondylosis usually appears in men andwomen older than 40 and progresses with age.Approximately 85% of people over the age of 60years have some degree of disc degeneration.Though cervical spondylosis affects both men andwomen equally, men usually develop it at anearlier age than women do.
How is startsAs the spine ages (or due to trauma), the discsbetween the vertebrae desiccate and becomethinner. The ligaments may become tight,causing the joints above or below the affectedjoint to become hyper mobile. The bodyreacts by generating the osteophytes (bonespurs) to try to stabilize the spine.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMSNeck pain and stiffness that gets progressivelyworse may be an indication of cervicalspondylosis. The pain may range from mild tosevere. Headaches (radiating from the back ofthe head forward. Cervical radiculopathy, pain(subscapular to finger tips). Cervicalmyelopathy, dizziness, loss of bladder control,loss of bowel control, numb legs.The condition may be acute to chronic.
Cervical radiculopathyThe most common symptom of cervicalradiculopathy is a sharp to dull pain that‘travels’ from your shoulder down one ofyour arms to your fingertips. You may alsoexperience some numbness or ‘pins andneedles’ in the affected arm and find thatstretching your neck and turning your headmakes the pain worse.This pain is caused by the nerve rootsbeing compressed by osteophytes or discmaterial.
Cervical myelopathyCervical myelopathy occurs when severe cervicalspondylosis causes narrowing of the spinal canal(also known as stenosis) and compression of thespinal cord.When the spinal cord is compressed, it interfereswith the signals that travel between your brain andthe rest of your body.
MedicationsNSAID medications (anti-inflammatory) is thefirst line of treatment.Muscle relaxersPain killersInjecting corticosteroid medications into the jointsbetween the vertebrae (facet joints). The injectioncombines corticosteroid medication with localanesthetic to reduce pain and inflammation.
SURGERYRisks of these procedures include infection, a tearin the membrane that covers the spinal cord at thesite of the surgery, bleeding, blood clots, andneurological deterioration.Surgery may be necessary if severe pain does notimprove from conservative treatments.
A foraminotomy is done to open up the neural foramen andrelieve pressure on a spinal nerve root. A foraminotomy maybe done because of bone spurs or inflammation.
Anterior Discectomy and Fusion: Anterior discectomy andfusion is done through the front of the neck. After taking outthe disc (discectomy), the disc space is filled with a smallgraft of bone. The bone is allowed to heal, fusing the twovertebrae into one solid bone.
PREVENTIONCannot be prevented because cervical spondylosis because itinvolves the aging process. Your getting it.Skipping high-impact activities like running, bull riding, etc.Perform neck exercises that build strength, flexibility and range ofmotionTaking breaks when performing activities so as to not hold thehead in the same position for long periodsPracticing good posture, with the neck aligned over shoulders