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Does Cervical Spondylosis Require Surgery & What Are The Surgical Options?

Cervical spondylosis can be regarded as a disorder in which there is swelling in the spinal cord. It is an old age-related disorder that principally distresses the cervical spine located in your neck. It is a common cause of chronic neck pain. In this condition, the neck bone, spine joints, and spinal discs are mostly affected.(1)

Does Cervical Spondylosis Require Surgery?

When symptoms of your cervical spondylosis persist or progress despite nonsurgical treatment then surgery is recommended. The objective of surgery is to reduce symptoms by relieving pressure on the spinal cord and the subsequent nerve endings.

Even after the non-surgical mode of treatments, if you fail to get relief from the symptoms, your physician might suggest trying out surgical options. Sometimes the symptoms may get worse over time despite trying all the available nonsurgical treatments. The purpose of the surgery is to improve your symptoms by decompressing or reducing the pressure on the spinal cord and subsequent nerve endings.(3)

What Are The Surgical Options For Cervical Spondylosis?

In some cases, as mentioned above, the pain symptoms and stiffness worsen and neurological loss occurs. In such situations, surgery might be offered to treat persistent pain or if there is feeling or sensation loss, muscle weakness, or bowel function loss or bladder function loss.

In case the MRI results show that there is compression of the nerve root or your spinal cord is pressurized, a condition called myelopathy, you might opt for a surgical route.

The surgeon can get rid of certain osteophytes, or bone pieces projecting out, and probably also certain disc portions to remove the pressure from the root of the spinal cord or nerves. Cervical fusion is an alternative type of surgical option to lessen the root joints as well as spinal cord pressure.(4)

Other Treatment Options

To relieve pain, usually, individuals may take over-the-counter medications that do not require a prescription. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen may help.

Patients with vascular disorder liver disorder, kidney problems, high blood pressure, heart ailments, or asthma should refrain from taking NSAIDs. For serious pain, the physician might prescribe other pain relievers.

Muscle relaxants are useful if the patient has neck spasms, in which your neck muscles suddenly tighten. Cyclobenzaprine or a similar muscle relaxant may be prescribed.

Amitriptyline is a medication usually used to treat depression, but it is sometimes prescribed for relentless pain that has not responded to other treatments. Gabapentin can be prescribed.

An injection of steroids in the neck can help with very severe pain. Physical therapy can help relieve symptoms.(5)

Preventing Cervical Spondylosis

If you do not have cervical spondylosis, follow these tips:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Be careful while lifting weights.
  • Do not consume alcohol.
  • Eat a healthy and low-fat diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Keep your weight under control.
  • Sit and lie in the correct posture.

Causes Of Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical osteoarthritis due to osteoarthritis is common. Sometimes, especially against the background of a congenitally narrow spinal canal (lessthan 10 mm), it leads to compression of the spinal cord with the development of myelopathy. Osteophytes of the intervertebral foramen, most often at C5-6 and C7-8 can lead to the development of radiculopathy. The manifestations are determined by the structures involved. An innate narrow channel increases the risk of cervical osteoarthritis.

Symptoms Of Cervical Spondylosis

Compression of the spinal cord usually causes a gradual increase in spastic paresis and/or paranesthesia in the hands and feet, reflexes may be increased. An asymmetric non-gestational neurological deficit is possible, aggravated by a cough or a Valsalva test, as well as by Centro-medullary syndrome. Over time, at the level of lesions, muscle atrophy and lax paresis of the upper limbs appear in combination with spasticity below this level. Compression of the nerve roots leads to early onset of radicular pain, followed by weakness, loss of reflex actions, and muscle loss.

Cervical osteoarthritis should be considered if an elderly patient with osteoarthritis or root pain at level C5 or C7 shows a characteristic neurological deficit.(2)


  1. Ahmed SB, Qamar A, Imran M, Usmani A, Mehar Y, ul Haque S. Cervical Spondylosis; An Inevitable But Preventable Catastrophe. 2019.
  2. Binder AI. Cervical spondylosis and neck pain. Bmj. 2007;334(7592):527-531.
  3. Puvanesarajah V, Hassanzadeh H, Shimer AL, Shen FH, Singla A. Readmission rates, reasons, and risk factors following anterior cervical fusion for cervical spondylosis in patients above 65 years of age. Spine. 2017;42(2):78-84.
  4. Klekamp J. Surgical treatment of multilevel cervical spondylosis in patients with or without a history of syringomyelia. European Spine Journal. 2017;26(4):948-957.
  5. Ito K, Nakamura T, Horiuchi T, Hongo K. Surgical treatment of cervical spondylosis in patients 80 years of age and older—A retrospective observational study. PloS one. 2019;14(6).

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 19, 2020

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