Cervical spondylosis is a general medical term for age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in your neck. As one ages, the disks dehydrate and shrink, signs of osteoarthritis develops, including bony projections along the edges of bones (Bone spurs).
This condition is very common and worsens with age. 85% of people affected are persons above 60years of age.
Cervical spondylosis can be both Symptomatic and Asymptomatic (can show symptoms or Not)
Most at times, cervical spondylosis results in narrowing of the spinal canal within the bones of the spine (the vertebrae). The spinal canal is the space inside the vertebrae that the spinal cord and the nerve roots pass through to reach the rest of the body. If the spinal cord or nerve roots becomes compressed, you will experience symptoms.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
- Pain and stiffness in the neck.
- Tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms, hands, legs or feet.
- Lack of coordination and difficulty in walking.
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
As we age, the structures that make up the backbone and neck gradually develop wear and tear. These changes include:
- Dehydrated Disks: the intervertebral disk serve as a cushion between the vertebrae of the spine. Most intervertebral disk or spinal disk begins to dry-out and shrink at age 40. As the disks shrink or becomes smaller in size, the vertebrae (back bone) get in contact with each other. This may result in bone spurs, narrowing disk space and finally nerve compression.
- Development of Bone Spurs: as the disk breaks down or diminishes, the body may produce or grow extra amount of bone in a misguided effort to strengthen the spine. Theses bone spurs can compress the spinal cord and nerve root and cause pain, tingling and numbness.
- Cervical Disk Herniation: the spinal disk contains a soft tissue material. Sometimes, when the spinal disks break or tear, the soft inner tissue material leaks out of the spinal disk. These material, compresses the nerve root or spinal cord and cause symptoms.
- Stiff ligament: Ligaments are fibrous connecting tissue that connect bone-to-bone. As we age, the spinal ligaments can stiffen making the neck less flexible.
- Occupation: jobs that involves repetitive neck motions, awkward positioning or a lot of overhead work put extra stress on the neck.
- Neck injuries: previous neck injuries appears to increase the risk of cervical spondylosis.
- Genetic factors: some individuals in certain families will experience more of these changes over time.
- Smoking: smoking has been linked to increased neck pain.
If cervical spndylosis severely compressed your spinal cord or nerve roots, the damage can be permanent.
Seek medical attention if you notice a sudden onset of numbness or weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
If you have any of the listed symptoms, it is important to have it assessed by a physical therapist or physiotherapist. The therapist will then be able to rule out any other conditions. They may also refer you for a scan (CT scan, MRI or X-ray).
At Esther’s Place Well-Being Hub, we design a therapeutic modality to best fit your recovery goals through:
- Stretching exercises
- strengthening, conditioning and balance techniques
- restoring range of movement
- soft tissue mobilizations and relaxation (massage)
- TENS treatment
- Ultrasound therapy
- Shockwave therapy
- Heat therapy (infrared treatment)
- Graded exposure to load program
- Home exercise and self-management techniques