What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical Spondylosis is a broad term for the wear and tear changes that affect the vertebral or spinal discs in the neck due to aging. Over time, these discs begin to shrink and become dry, and signs of osteoarthritis, such as bone spurs, begin to develop.
Cervical Spondylosis occurs very frequently. Over 90% of people over the age of 65 have evidence of osteoarthritis and cervical spondylosis that is visible on x-rays of the neck. The condition gets worse as we age. Some families tend to have more changes in their discs than others, so it appears there is a genetic link to the disorder.
Most people who have Cervical Spondylosis do not have any symptoms. When symptoms or problems do occur, conservative (non-surgical) treatment is often prescribed to determine what is Cervical Spondylosis.
What is Cervical Spondylosis' Reason?
As you grow older, due to everyday wear and tear, the parts of your spine gradually begin to wear out. Your spine is made up, not only of backbones but also of ligaments and discs. Wear and tear affect all of these, and cause changes to occur that can lead to what is Cervical Spondylosis. Some of these changes to learn more about what is Cervical Spondylosis include:
- Dehydrated Discs: Intervertebral Discs lie between the vertebrae and function as shock absorbers and cushions to prevent the vertebrae from grinding on each other. With age, the discs begin to dehydrate, and they shrink. This starts to happen to most people by the time they are 40 years old. This means there is greater potential for more bone-on-bone friction and grinding and increased risk for painful symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis.
- Herniated Discs: Growing older also has an impact on the outside edges of the vertebral discs. As the discs dry out, they can crack. This allows their center, which is gel-like material that has been so helpful in cushioning the vertebrae, to leak out. This material can take up room in the spinal canal and cause pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord. If this occurs, painful symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis will be experienced.
- Bone Spurs: Bone spurs develop as the body's natural reaction to degeneration of the discs. The body tries to make up for what it is losing by forming extra bone. These additional pieces of bone sometimes can pinch the nerve roots and spinal cord and are a sign of Cervical Spondylosis when they appear in the upper spine.
- Stiff Ligaments: Strands of tissue that connect one bone to another are called ligaments. Growing older can cause the ligaments in the spine to become stiff. This makes your neck stiff and decreases your flexibility which is a symptom of Cervical Spondylosis.
What is Cervical Spondylosis' Prevalence?
Cervical Spondylosis is a typical condition that is evaluated to represent 2% of all hospital cases and admissions. It is the most incessant reason for spinal cord injuries in patients who are 55 years of age or older. On the premise of radiological discoveries, 90% of men who are more than 50 years and 90% of women who are more than 60 years of age have proof of degenerative changes in the cervical spine.
What is Cervical Spondylosis with Myelopathy? A 2009 report showed that Cervical Spondylosis with Myelopathy was the most widely recognized essential diagnosis (36%) among elderly US patients admitted to the hospital for surgical treatment of a degenerative cervical spine in between 1992 and 2005.
Both genders are influenced similarly. Cervical Spondylosis generally begins earlier in men than in women.
What is Cervical Spondylosis' Risk Factor?
Spondylosis is an aging phenomenon. With age, the bones and ligaments in the spine wear, prompting bone spurs (osteoarthritis). Additionally, the intervertebral disc worsens and weakens, which can prompt disc herniation and protruding circles. Spondylosis is common. Side effects are regularly first revealed between the ages of 20 and 50. More than 80% of individuals beyond 40 years old have evidence of Spondylosis on X-ray exams. The rate at which Spondylosis occurs is incompletely identified with a genetic inclination and additionally damage history.
There are certain factors that increase your risk of developing Cervical Spondylosis. These risk factors include:
- Age: Your risk of developing Cervical Spondylosis increases as you age. It is a normal part of growing older. The discs in the spine gradually lose fluid and shrink over time.
- Occupation: Some jobs may increase your risk of developing Cervical Spondylosis. These jobs usually involve tasks that place an extra amount of stress on your neck such as jobs requiring overhead work, repetitive neck movements or awkward positions.
- Neck injuries: People who have suffered neck injuries seem to be at increased risk for developing Cervical Spondylosis.
- Genetic factors: Some families tend to have a greater chance of developing these changes associated with Cervical Spondylosis than others.
What is Cervical Spondylosis' Complication?
Cervical Spondylosis may lead to Cervical Radiculopathy. This complication occurs when osteophytes (bone spurs) press on the nerves while they exit the bones and spinal column. Your spinal cord and nerve roots may become severely compressed due to cervical spondylosis, and its damage has a high possibility of becoming permanent.
Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms
Cervical Spondylosis does not cause symptoms in most cases. When the condition does produce symptoms, they most often affect only the neck area. The most common Cervical Spondylosis symptoms are stiffness and pain in the neck.
Many individuals with Spondylosis on X-ray don't have any side effects. In fact, lumbar (spondylosis in the low back) is available in 27%-37% of individuals without Cervical Spondylosis symptoms. In a few people, Spondylosis causes back pain and neck pain because of nerve compression (pinched nerves). Pinched nerves in the neck can cause pain in the neck or shoulders and headache. Nerve compression is caused by swelling plates and bone goads on the facet joints, causing narrowing of the gaps where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal (foraminal stenosis).
Characteristic discoveries of Spondylosis can be detected with X-ray tests. These discoveries include a decrease in the disc space, hard spur arrangement at the upper or lower portions of the vertebrae, and calcium build-up where the vertebrae have been affected by Cervical Spondylosis symptoms.
Most moderately aged and elderly individuals have irregular discoveries on X-ray trial of Spondylosis, notwithstanding when they are completely pain-free. In this manner, different factors are likely significant contributors to their back pain.
On the off chance that a herniated disc from Spondylosis causes a pinched nerve, pain may shoot into an appendage. For example, a huge plate herniation in the lumbar spine can cause nerve compression and cause pain that begins in the low back and after that transmits into the legs. This is called Radiculopathy. At the point when the sciatic nerve, which keeps running from the low back down the leg to the foot, is affected, it is called Sciatica. Radiculopathy and Sciatica regularly cause numbness and tingling (vibe of pins and needles) in an extremity.
In some cases, Cervical Spondylosis symptoms can cause the spinal canal to become narrow. The nerve roots and the spinal cord located in this space need enough room, and if they get pinched, the following Cervical Spondylosis symptoms may occur:
- Weakness, numbness and/or tingling in your hands or arms, or your feet and legs.
- Problems walking and poor coordination, balance problems can be one of the cervical spondylosis symptoms.
- Inability to control your bowels or bladder.
When to see a doctor
If you notice sudden weakness or numbness, or sudden inability to control your bladder or bowels and other Cervical Spondylosis symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
When your doctor examines you, if Cervical Spondylosis symptoms are detected, he will check the mobility and flexibility in your neck. He will also check your reflexes and the strength of your muscles to determine if there is any pressure on your spinal cord or the spinal nerves. Your doctor may also ask you to walk several feet to evaluate if Cervical Spondylosis and associated spinal compression is affecting your balance, coordination or gait.
There are several imaging tests doctors use to gain information that will help them diagnose Cervical Spondylosis or other conditions and guide your treatment. Examples of these tests include:
- Neck X-ray: X-rays are used many times to screen for serious causes of neck stiffness and pain, such as fractures, tumors or infections. Bone spurs and other abnormalities to indicate Cervical Spondylosis may show up on an x-ray.
- Computerized tomography (CT)scan: A CT scan uses x-rays taken from several different angles and combines these views into cross-sectional images of the internal structures. This provides the doctor with many more details of the bones than a plain x-ray and may be helpful in diagnosing Cervical Spondylosis.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This study uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce very detailed images of bones as well as soft tissues. This helps your doctor evaluate your spinal nerves to see if they are affected by Cervical Spondylosis.
- Myelogram: This test involves the injection of a dye into the spinal canal, followed by obtaining images either using CT or x-rays. Areas of your spine are made more visible by the dye which helps your doctor assess for complications of Cervical Spondylosis or other conditions.
Nerve function tests
Nerve function tests can help determine if signals sent by your nerves are travelling correctly to the muscles. Some examples of nerve function tests are:
- Electromyogram (EMG): This test evaluates how healthy your muscles are and also the health of the nerves that control the muscles. It takes a measurement of the activity in the nerves while they are transmitting signals when the muscles are resting and when they are tensed. Your doctor may order nerve function tests if Cervical Spondylosis is suspected.
- Nerve conduction study: This test measures the speed and the strength of nerve messages. Small electrodes are placed on your skin near the nerve being tested. A small shock is then sent through the nerve to measure its response.
Cervical Spondylosis Treatment
The course of treatment you and your doctor decide is best for you depends on how severe your signs and symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis are. The primary goal of most plans for Cervical Spondylosis treatment is to manage pain, prevent any lasting damage to the nerves or spinal cord, and to restore or maintain your ability to perform your usual activities as much as possible.
Cervical Spondylosis treatment for mild cases may include:
- Exercise: Getting regular exercise will help you recover faster than staying sedentary. Modify some exercises if you have to due to neck pain, but do your best to stay with or start a routine of regular exercise. Exercise may also help lift your spirits if you are feeling discouraged due to cervical spondylosis.
- Cervical Spondylosis medication: Often, over-the-counter Cervical Spondylosis medications are effective for controlling the pain of Cervical Spondylosis. Some examples of Cervical Spondylosis medication are naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), or acetaminophen (Tylenol and others).
- Ice or Heat: If your neck muscles are tight or sore because of Cervical Spondylosis, try using ice initially then heat to help with pain.
- Soft neck brace: These soft collars support your neck and provide rest for the muscles in the back of your neck that are fatigued by Cervical Spondylosis. Because they allow the muscles to rest, the muscles can become weak if the collar is worn too often or for long periods, so the amount of time a soft neck brace is worn should be limited.
Cervical Spondylosis Medication
If Cervical Spondylosis medications such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve aren't controlling your Cervical Spondylosis pain, your physician may recommend Cervical Spondylosis medication that is only available with a doctor's prescription. These might include:
- Muscle relaxants: Muscle spasms can be very painful. If you are experiencing these, a muscle relaxant may help Cervical Spondylosis. Examples of these include methocarbamol (Robaxin) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix).
- Anti-seizure drugs: Nerve pain, like the pain, sometimes caused by Cervical Spondylosis, is sometimes well-controlled with certain Cervical Spondylosis medication that is given for epilepsy. Examples of these cervical spondylosis medications include pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant).
- Narcotics: Some Cervical Spondylosis medications like analgesics (pain pills) contain narcotics. These are usually only given in cases of very severe pain, due to a high risk for addiction. Some examples of Cervical Spondylosis medication called narcotic analgesics include oxycodone (Roxicet, Percocet, and others) and hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin, and others).
- Injections of Steroids: Injecting a corticosteroid in combination with a numbing agent directly into the area affected by Cervical Spondylosis is sometimes helpful for reducing pain and inflammation and used as a Cervical Spondylosis medication.
Sometimes physicians recommend physical therapy to help patients with Cervical Spondylosis learn stretching and strengthening exercises for the shoulder and neck muscles. Traction is sometimes used for Cervical Spondylosis to help make more room within the spinal canal and remove pressure from the nerve roots.
If you have neurological symptoms and signs associated with Cervical Spondylosis, such as weakness in your legs or arms, or if conservative treatments such as cervical spondylosis medication have not helped, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery for Cervical Spondylosis could involve the removal of a portion of a vertebra, removal or bone spurs or removal of a herniated disc to make more space for the nerve roots and spinal cord.
Spinal decompression surgery includes different surgical procedures that can mitigate weight on the nerves in the back because of spinal stenosis, herniated intervertebral discs, or foraminal stenosis (narrowing of the openings between the facet joints because of bone goads). Common techniques for decompression include the accompanying:
- Laminectomy is a procedure to evacuate the hard arches of the spinal canal (lamina) along these lines increasing the measure of the spinal canal and decreasing weight on the spinal cord.
- Discectomy is a procedure to extract a portion of an intervertebral disc that is putting pressure on a nerve root or the spinal canal.
- Foraminotomy or Foraminectomy is a procedure to expand the openings for the nerve roots to exit the spinal canal. Amid a Foraminectomy, for the most part, more tissue is expelled than amid a Foraminotomy.
- Osteophyte surgery is a procedure to extract bone spurs from a region where they are causing pinched nerves.
- Corpectomy is a procedure to extract a vertebral body and plates.
Combination of the vertebrae is now and then combined with at least one of these procedures keeping in mind the end goal to settle the spine.
Cervical Spondylosis occurs as the discs between your vertebrae become dehydrated and lose their elasticity as you grow older. This drying out and stiffness makes them susceptible to cracks. The ligaments of the spine lose their elasticity in Cervical Spondylosis also, and bone spurs develop which take up room in the spinal column. The discs can eventually collapse and the gel-like center then bulges out. This makes the spinal canal even more narrow. In people who have Cervical Spondylosis, when they extend the neck, the ligaments fold inward and further reduce the diameter of the canal. Eventually, there isn't enough space, and the spinal cord and/or the nerve roots can be pinched or compressed.