You have certainly heard of or read about osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that affects joints. Well, understanding what cervical spondylosis should not be a problem. Forget about your cervix, cervical spondylosis is osteoarthritis that can affect your neck. As you age, your neck’s vertebral joint’s surface area reduces. To correct this ‘anomaly’, your body naturally attempts to increase the surface area to stabilize your neck vertebral joint. This attempt leads to formation of bone spurs on your vertebral bodies. When the formed bone spurs do not achieve vertebral stabilization, they cause become very painful because of the pressure they exert on your spinal nerves. Such pressure can extend to your spinal cord.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis is a condition that sets in at around the age of 40 (in men). For women, the condition can set in much later. The condition is degenerative, meaning that it progresses as you age. The pressure that the bone spurs exert on your spinal nerves and to some extent on your spinal cord leads to general muscle weakness and numbness of your nerves. You can also have inconsistent bowel movement. Apart from these, you are bound to experience other symptoms including:
- You are bound to experience neck pain. As the condition progresses, you may experience stiffness of the neck, which becomes worse with time.
- You are bound to experience shoulder pain, which will actually be emanating from the bottom of your skull (vertebral joint). This pain can extend beyond your shoulders down to your arms.
- Lose of balance – Because cervical spondylosis also affects nerves leading to your legs, you are bound to have weak legs that will cause loss of balance.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
Because cervical spondylosis is degenerative, your condition is bound to become worse with time. You are likely to look for support in a cane or walking stick in order to walk around (something common with most old men). Cervical spondylosis has only one major cause, repetitive strain injury. This encompasses several lifestyle routines such as driving for long hours on a daily basis and working for long hours daily hunched on a computer amongst other activities. However, certain factors are considered risky and lead to the occurrence of the condition. Such include:
- Carrying heavy loads on your head on a regular basis. This exerts pressure on your neck vertebrae.
- Professional gymnastics that leads to increased movements and pressure on the neck.
- Professional dancing that also leads to increased movements of the neck.
- Genes – The condition may run in your family and you are likely to inherit the same.
- Spinal structure – A narrow spinal canal makes it difficult for your spinal cord to fit properly within, leading to the occurrence of the condition.
- Physical injury – Traumatic physical experiences such as beatings and blows to the forehead can lead to the occurrence of the condition.
Treatment of Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis can be diagnosed through varied ways. Doctors use Spurling’s test, neck flexibility tests and imaging techniques (X-rays, MRI’s and CT scans) in diagnosing the condition. Cervical spondylosis treatment is usually aimed at reducing pain and irritability of spinal nerves. Such is achieved through medications and physical therapies. In extreme cases, surgical treatment in form of laminectomy is performed. However, different research studies are currently underway to identify the most effective and appropriate surgery treatment.