The other name of cervical spondylosis is cervical osteoarthritis. It is an abnormal condition that arises due to degeneration of the neck bones. The neck bones are known as cervical vertebrae which are supported with the help of cushions. These cushions that lie in between the vertebrae are called disks. These disks may get damaged for several reasons, and cause cervical spondylosis. Those who are above the age of 50 are at a greater risk of suffering from this condition. It has been found that the symptoms get worsened with the increase in the movement of the spine like bending or stretching of the body.
Cervical spondylosis can be caused when there is some deposit of minerals like calcium in the cervical disks, or because of degeneration taking place in the cartilage and neck bones. Due to the excessive wear out of the neck bones, one or more nerve roots tend to get compressed, which gives symptoms like pinching sensation and neck pain, which may get extended up to the arm.
If the nerves get too compressed for a prolonged period of time, the intensity of the pain will increase further, and may affect the legs as well. The cartilage of the neck bones can suffer degeneration due to some neck injury in the past. Incorrect posture or sitting in such a posture that puts a lot of pressure on the cervical area, and spines can be responsible for causing cervical spondylosis.
Following are some of the commonly observed symptoms of cervical spondylosis. It is not necessary that any body suffering affected by the condition will have all the symptoms that have been discussed here. Most of the time, these symptoms overlap with each other, and cannot be identified individually.
- Neck pain and shoulder pain, which may further move to other regions like lower back, arms, hands. This pain may not be constant, and may go after some time.
- Pain can be accompanied by stiffness and swelling in the neck joint, which tends to deteriorate with each passing day.
- Numbness or unexplainable sensation in certain parts of shoulders, hands, and fingers. Due to this, some patients find it difficult to carry out simple activities like writing. In severe cases, this may be felt in the legs as well.
- Headache due to cervical spondylosis is mostly confined to the backside of the head.
- Loss of control of the bladder or bowels. Sometimes, this results in involuntary urination or defecation. This usually happens when the spinal cord is badly compressed.
- Sense of giddiness or loss of balance when there is a sudden neck movement.
- Tenderness, tingling, and numbness of the lower portion of the body is particularly observed after waking up out of bed in the morning.
- Weakening of the muscles in the upper parts of the arms and legs. In worst cases, the weakness of the legs and feet may make walking difficult.
- Popping sound from the neck even with slight movements of neck.
- Fatigue, sleep deprivation, memory loss, anxiety are some of the symptoms which may also be experienced by some people.
The main aim of the cervical spondylosis treatment is providing relief from the pain and preventing any further injury to the spinal cord and roots of the nerve. Patients with serious type of cervical spondylosis, are advised a complete bed rest till the symptoms subside. Pain killers are prescribed to bring down the pain. When the pain becomes unbearable, cortisone injections are given to control the pain.
Neck traction and use of neck brace can also help in pain management. Those who have dystonia may also suffer from symptoms of cervical spondylosis. In that case, cervical dystonia treatment can help in getting rid of the symptoms. Surgery is the last resort in cervical spondylosis, and is done when other treatment options fail to give any relief. It involves removal of certain affected tissues or bones.
Permanent disability due to cervical spondylosis is rare, but can happen, in case the condition turns severe. Therefore, early identification of the symptoms, and treating them at the right time is a must, so that it does not cause any irreparable damage.