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Can Cervical Spondylosis Cause Throat Problems Or Even Headaches?

Cervical spondylosis leads to pain in the neck among older and milder age adults. This pain reduces with simple exercises, activity changes, neck immobilization, and meds.(1)

Nonpositional headaches can be caused by Cervical Spondylosis.(2)

Can Cervical Spondylosis Cause Throat Problems Or Even Headaches?

Cervical spondylosis is known to cause throat problems. Cervical spondylosis can cause a variety of problems depending upon the pathological damage occurring at the site of degenerative disc disease. It can start from a simple symptom of headache which usually presents in the earlier part of the condition. The headache is usually suboccipital originating from the neck region. It can be perceived as a local headache occurring in the occipital region due to the nerve compression or large spurs in the cervical region. It may also be in the form of radiating pain from the neck region to the occiput, shoulder, arm, etc.(3)

It has also been noticed in a variety of cases that there is a dysfunction of the brainstem due to large occipital condyles arising from the first cervical vertebrae. The medulla may get affected and there it can activate vomiting center as well. This results in originating the feeling of nausea and vomiting throughout the time for which a cervical spondylosis episode stays.

Although cervical spondylosis is not a completely curable disease and its symptoms may also not be eliminated on the treatment but it can surely be subsided with the help of medical treatment. Symptomatic treatment is the best form like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be given in the case of headache, antihistamine drugs generation 1 and 2 can be used to relieve nausea, serotonin receptor 3 antagonist such as ondansetron is used to relieve the vomiting, oral rehydration salts are preferred for reducing the dehydration and many more.

Class 1 of generation 1 antihistaminic like promethazine, chlorpheniramine, dimenhydrinate, etc. can be given in severe cases and opioid medication like tramadol, etc. for the pain relief could be needed if the symptoms have increased and are not relieved by simple pain medications. It can also be used in case of complications and untreated cases.
Cervical spondylosis is also known to cause throat problems. It can do the same by various mechanisms. Physical obstruction of the esophagus can be there if there is large spur formation which compresses upon it. It leads to pain when the patient tries to swallow anything also known as dysphagia.(3)

Cervical spondylosis can also lead to stenosis of the spinal space and compression of the cranial nerves exiting at the foramen Magnum resulting in paralysis of the ninth and tenth cranial nerve which are glossopharyngeal and vagus respectively. This leads to paralysis of the muscles of pharynx and larynx.

Due to the paralysis, the patient is not able to swallow properly, and also the protective mechanism of the epiglottis to prevent the food from entering the windpipe fails. It may result in choking and even the cough mechanism for spitting out the food particles is also rendered ineffective. It is a very dangerous condition and the patient can die on the spot because he is not able to breathe.

Laryngeal paralysis also occurs when the 10th cranial nerve is affected. It results in loss of voice production and also can hinder the process of breathing because vocal cords stay in the median position.


Cervical spondylosis can cause both headache and throat problems. The headache is primary symptoms in most of the cases which may or may not be associated with nausea and vomiting. Whereas the throat problem occurs when the severity of the condition increases and a large amount of degenerative process gets accumulated.

If a person experiences symptoms like a headache in association with neck pain or rigidity, cervical spondylosis can be kept as one of the most prominent diagnosis. Once the symptoms such as dysphagia, difficulty in breathing, intractable vomiting, etc. begin to appear, it signifies that the disease has progressed to a later stage where is the prognosis is bad and even the symptoms cannot be relieved completely.


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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:June 10, 2020

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