Cervical spondylosis is a common, age-related disorder of the cervical spine that is located in the neck region. This condition is also known as neck arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis. With age, the cervical discs gradually face wear and tear resulting in the breakdown of the structure. The fluid present between the cervical discs is lost which makes the spine stiffer, leading to cervical pain. This results in changes in the bones, discs, and joints at the spine of the neck.
As a result of the fluid dehydration and degeneration of the discs and cartilage in the surrounding area, abnormal growth or spurt of bones called osteophytes can occur leading to the narrowing of the passage from where spinal nerves exit, causing a related condition called cervical spinal stenosis.
Spondylosis is an umbrella term that is used to describe any degeneration of the spinal cord. Spondylosis symptoms involve acute pain in the neck and back in old-age. Cervical spondylosis is prevalent among middle-aged and elderly people with more than 85% of people older than 60 years being a victim of this disorder that causes cervical neck pain. Early cervical spondylosis can also occur but it is rare.
Spondylitis and spondylosis both affect the spinal cord but there is a basic difference between the two. The meaning of spondylitis is that it is the inflammation of one or more typical cervical vertebrae leading to pain in the spine. Cervical spondylosis mostly refers to any kind of degeneration of the spine. So, even though the effects of both the diseases might be similar, their origin and cause are completely different. Understanding the difference between spondylosis and spondylitis is important because it helps the doctors determine the course of treatment and the right medications for the patient.
Every person has a normal curve of the spine which is known as lordosis. The loss of cervical lordosis refers to the situation in which a person’s spinal curve arches abnormally and in an increased way inward. This can lead to excessive pressure on the spinal cord that causes pain, discomfort, and extreme numbness. The loss of cervical lordosis is often one of the contributing causes of severe cases of cervical spondylosis.
Cervical vertebrae of the spine are the thinnest and most delicate bunch of seven bony rings present between the base of the skull and the thoracic vertebrae at the trunk.
Cervical spondylosis symptoms can vary from person to person and the extent of cervical spine pain depends on the age of the affected person. Some of the common spondylosis symptoms are:
With enough rest and proper sleep, cervical pain symptoms tend to improve. The symptoms of cervical pain are maximum in the morning and then again at night before bed.
If osteophytes cause cervical stenosis in the cervical bone, then it puts excessive pressure on the spinal cord leading to a condition called cervical spondylotic myelopathy. The myelopathy meaning is nothing but it refers to any disease of the spinal cord. The onset of this secondary condition can result in the following symptoms of spondylosis:
The normal wear and tear of the bones in the spinal cord are the main cervical spondylosis causes that result in degenerative spondylosis. Other possible causes of cervical pain can be the following:
As the spine degenerates and becomes weaker due to old age, the body responds by growing new and extra bones to make the spine stronger. This abnormal formation of bones or cervical osteophytes is called bone spurs. These extra bones can put pressure on the spine, such as the nerve and the spinal cord in the cervical region leading to a bad case of cervical disc disease.
The spinal cord is made up of tiny bones called vertebrae which consists of small fluid-filled discs. The fluid in between the bones is thick and acts like pad-like cushions that absorb the shock of heavy activities like lifting, twisting and other movements. With age, the fluid can get dehydrated leading due to a condition called disc desiccation. This causes the bones to rub against each other during activities that cause neck spondylosis and results in acute pain in the dangerous space of the neck.
In this condition, spinal discs develop cracks in them that result in leakage of the fluid present between them. This internal cushioning material that leaks out can press against the spinal nerves and bones resulting in numbness of the arms and severe pain.
Any sort of neck injury due to an accident can lead to the onset of mild cervical spondylosis which accelerates the aging process of the cervical spine.
Ligaments are bands of fibrous connective tissue that connects bones and cartilages together. With age, these ligaments can become stiffer that affects the overall neck movement leading to a cervical problem at the neck.
People who are employed in sectors that require heavy liftings like construction work and more prone to develop neck spondylitis and spondylosis. From an early age, this kind of job puts extra pressure on the neck and spinal cord leading to early lumbar spondylosis and symptoms of cervical spondylosis.
The greatest risk factor of cervical spondylosis is aging and hence, it cannot be absolutely prevented from happening. But there are certainly other factors that can accelerate the onset of this condition. Such factors include:
There are certain cervical spondylosis home treatment measures that can be applied to prevent this condition. These home remedies for cervical pain involve:
How to cure cervical pain? This depends on how well the disease is diagnosed in the first place. Making an accurate diagnosis of the condition involves ruling out other potential factors that can cause neck pain in general. On the basis of the results of tests, the doctor may refer the patient to an orthopedic specialist or a neurologist for further cervical spondylosis treatment. Diagnosis tests include:
1. Physical Examinations:
The first set of physics tests to determine the proper course of spondylosis treatment includes testing the reflexes of the patient and check for the presence of muscle weakness and deficits in the sensory nerve function. For cervical spondylitis treatment, doctors also run tests to determine the range of neck movement and the general state of the overall walking movement to understand cervical treatment necessary. All these tests help the doctor understand if the spinal nerves and cords are under any sort of extra pressure. To confirm the diagnosis of cervical spondylosis, doctors will order imaging tests and nerve function tests.
2. Imaging Tests:
3. Nerve Function Tests:
Spondylosis treatments mainly focus on how to cure cervical spondylosis permanently, pain relief and lowering the risk of extensive damage to your vertebrae. Treatment for cervical spondylosis include:
On the onset of cervical pain symptoms and treatment, physiotherapy for cervical spondylosis is a great way for pain relief. With the help of a trained physical therapist, you can learn all the exercises for cervical spondylosis. This bunch of cervical pain exercise includes cervical spondylosis exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
Certain forms of exercises for cervical pain involve the use of neck traction - a form of cervical spondylosis physiotherapy treatment that uses weights to help increase the space between the cervical joints and reduce the pressure forming on the cervical discs and nerve roots.
Commonly administered medications for the treatment of Cervical Spondylosis are:
Various home treatment options are available to help ease the pain of cervical spondylosis. Firstly, patients who are suffering from this neck pain disease are advised to take enough rest during the day and keep proper care of their posture. People who acquire spondylosis at an early age normally do so because of bad study habits.
The home treatments that can help relieve pain include the following:
Cervical spondylosis is not progressive even though patients might have to live with severe pain for long periods of time all their life as it is a chronic condition. Cervical Spondylosis Surgery is only advised by doctors in rare cases when other forms of treatment do not help to ease the pain. For people who suffer from a progressive loss of function in the arms, hands, and legs, surgery may be required to fix the defect at the source point. This is because any form of compression at the cord may result in permanent functional disability.
In cases of the surgery, the main goal is to remove the areas or sources that have been applying extra pressure to the spinal cord and nerve endings. Some extensive forms of surgery may also involve the insertion of implants or bone grafts to add stabilization. Doctors also perform a fusion of the degenerated discs as a cure for cervical spondylosis.
Cervical spondylosis is not uncommon among people who have crossed their 60s. Early diagnosis of this disease can help doctors recommend a conservative line of treatment to help ease the pain. Though this condition is not reversible, with proper care, home remedies, and lifestyle practices, patients overcome the stiffness and discomfort.
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