What is Cervical Spondylosis?
You may have heard other names Cervical Spondylosis goes by, i.e.,Cervical Osteoarthritis or Cervical Osteoarthritis; the most common of all names being Neck Arthritis.
In simple terms, this disease affects the discs and joints in your cervical spine (neck), which is when aging bones and cartilage wear down. It becomes apparent when you hear a clicking or popping sound in your neck, and is normally accompanied by some pain.
Cervical Spondylosis normally affects people over the age of 60, but has been known to occur in the younger generation as well.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
The long line of bones from the top of your spine to your pelvis is called the vertebral column. It is broken down into five sections starting with the cervical spine which consists of the first 7 bones or vertebrae. This is the area associated with Cervical Spondylosis.
Vertebrae are held in place by connective tissue called discs which are strong sacs containing a gel like substance. They cushion the vertebrae and allow the vertebrae a certain range of flexibility. The vertebrae are hollow and house the spinal cord and nerves.
With the aging process comes wear and tear. Here is when the gel in the discs degenerate (or dry out) and becomes thinner, giving less cushioning between the vertebrae and limiting flexibility of the neck.
Many people suffering from Cervical Spondylosis complain about “stiff necks” and find they have difficulty to turn their heads from side to side, or move their heads up and down with ease. Movement is usually accompanied with a worrisome clicking or popping sound in the neck.
The stiffness is usually accompanied with some pain. However, medical practitioners have found that some people do not realize they have Cervical Spondylosis as pain was not evident; only stiffness.
Apart from a stiff neck, a person may also feel pain when sneezing or coughing. Some people experience headaches at the back of their head and a tingling sensation in the arms or shoulders.
Persons experiencing lesser known symptoms like loss of bladder or bowel control and loss of balance need to immediately consult a medical practitioner.
Some factors contributing to Cervical Spondylosis
As the cervical bones become worn down, the body reacts by trying to grow new bone along the edges of worn vertebrae. However these bones may not grow in the right places and end up pressing on the spinal cord or nerves, which can lead to mild or severe neck pain.
Again, as the spinal discs start to degenerate, the vertebrae start “rubbing” on each other, causing pain and discomfort. This process can even start happening when a person is in the 30s.
Sometimes the discs may have tiny cracks and some gel comes out which can press along the nerves causing numbness and pain in the arms.
Injury from Whiplash
Whiplash happens after a strong impact causes damage to the neck area (vertebrae, discs, nerves and neck muscles). It can be from the impact of a car crash or from playing contact sports, when the neck is violently thrown forward and backward.
Repetitive movements like looking up while painting the ceiling of a room or working with a jackhammer are other possible causes.
Your medical practitioner will need to do a series of tests for a proper diagnosis to rule out other diseases which have similar symptoms. You may be referred to a neurologist for further testing of your reflexes and undergo imaging tests like x-rays, CT scan or MRI scan. You may also be asked to do a walk test.
Treatment is usually non-invasive, and in the form of reducing pain and pain management. It may be a series of physiotherapy sessions to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles and surrounding areas. Neck traction is an option, though not permanent, as treatment is by using weights to increase the space between the vertebrae and relieve pressure on the nerves.
Your medical practitioner may give medication to help alleviate the pain, or give steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
For severe Cervical Spondylosis which does not respond to medication or steroid injections, surgery is an option as some neck bones can be fused, or damaged discs or bone spurs can be removed, so as to reduce the pain.
In conclusion, it is crucial to take very good care of your cervical spine, as a host of problems can emerge once any section of the vertebral column is injured.
30th April 21:38