Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of cervical spondylosis. The compression usually shows up first as an unstable, jerky walking, pain, and loss of flexibility in the neck. The diagnosis can be confirmed by MRI or computed tomography. Treatment includes a soft cervical collar, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and sometimes surgery.
Cervical spondylosis usually occurs in middle-aged or older people. It is the most common cause of spinal cord disorder in people over 55 years of age.(1)
How Does Cervical Spondylosis Affect The Body?
Often, cervical spondylosis causes the spinal cord and the associated nerve roots that move through the spinal cord to the other parts of the body to get narrower, allowing less space for the nerves. This often results in a feeling of weakness, tingling, and numbness in the extremities (hands and feet) as the nerve roots are pinched between the spinal cords.
Osteoarthritis is more common with aging. This leads to the degeneration of the cervical vertebrae. When the bone in the spine regenerates itself, it overgrows by developing unusual bone growths (spurs) and narrowing the spinal canal in the neck. (The spinal canal is the duct that runs in the middle of the spine and contains the spinal cord.) The intervertebral discs between the vertebrae are also broken down, which gradually reduces the fluid protective padding of the spinal cord. These changes can lead to spinal cord compression and malfunction. Because the tissue is damaged, it becomes more susceptible to injury. For example, minor neck trauma after a fall or whiplash can result in serious damage to the spinal cord.
A narrow spinal canal is innate in some people. Because of arthrosis, they, therefore, suffer from more severe compression.(2)
What Triggers Cervical Spondylosis?
In the neck, the bones and protective cartilage are vulnerable to wear and tear that can contribute to cervical spondylosis. Possible reasons for the disorder are:
Spurs Of Bones: These growths in the bone are the product of the body attempting to develop extra bones to reinforce the spine. This can push on sensitive spinal areas such as the nerves, causing pain.
Intervertebral Disc Dehydration: Spine bones have dense, pillow-like discs between them that withstand the shock of shifting, twisting, and other movements. Inside those disks, the gel-like content may dry out over the period. It will trigger further rubbing together of the vertebrae leading to pain. The cycle will start at about the age of 40.
Herniated Discs And Injuries: Spinal disks can build cracks that make the release of internal cushioning materials which may then press on the nerves and bones of the spinal cord and cause the typical symptoms. Injury to the neck region can also make the process of aging to accelerate.
Stiffness In The Ligament And Overuse: Over time, the strong threads that bind the spinal bones to each other will become stiffer, restricting your neck mobility and tightening your neck. Many tasks or occupations, such as construction work, include repetitive motions or heavy lifting, which may put even more pressure on your spine resulting in early wear.(3)
Treatment For Cervical Spondylosis
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Sometimes surgery
- A muscle relaxant for spasms
Without treatment, the symptoms of spinal cord disorder due to cervical spondylosis may subside or remain unchanged; but they can also get worse.
Initially, especially when only one nerve root is pinched, a soft cervical collar and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can provide relief. If not, surgery is required.
Surgery is also required if the spinal cord is bruised. The front or rear neck area is incised. To create more space for the spinal cord, part of the affected vertebrae is removed. If there are bone spurs, they are removed and the spine can be stabilized after the vertebrae have been stiffened. In principle, the nerve damage cannot be reversed by surgery, but it prevents further nerve damage. The sooner you are treated surgically, the better the result.
Because the spine can have postoperative instability, patients often have to wear a hardback splint to keep their heads in the healing phase. When muscle cramps occur, a muscle relaxant is used.(4)
- Ahmed SB, Qamar A, Imran M, Usmani A, Mehar Y, ul Haque S. Cervical Spondylosis; An Inevitable But Preventable Catastrophe. 2019.
- Wang J, Tong H. Study on the improvement of hemorheology and prognosis of cervical spondylosis of vertebral artery by combination of strong dingxuan tablet. Chinese Journal of Biochemical Pharmaceutics. 2017(5):226-228.
- Robinson J, Kothari MJ. Treatment and prognosis of cervical radiculopathy. UpToDate, Waltham, MA.(Accessed on August 21, 2019.). 2017.
- Luo M. Arthritis Relief and Remedy Method. Google Patents; 2018.
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