Cervical Spondylosis

BASIC INFORMATION

DESCRIPTION

Changes to the spine, at the back of the neck, that occur with aging. These changes can cause problems when they put pressure on the nerves and blood vessels. The disorder is more common in people over age 50, and affects males more often than females. It is a common cause of chronic neck pain.

FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Tiffness and pain in the neck that extends to the shoulder blades, top of the shoulders, upper arms, hands, or back of the head.
  • Crunching sounds with movement of the neck or shoulder muscles.
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, and fingers. There is some loss of feeling in the hands, as well as slowing of reflexes.
  • Muscle weakness or muscle spasms.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness; unsteady walk.
  • Feeling more tired than usual and having disturbed sleep.

CAUSES

With aging, there is wear and tear on the vertebrae (bones of the spine) and the disks between these vertebrae. Bony growths called osteophytes (or spurs) can develop on the vertebrae. Because of these changes, there can be pressure on nerves and blood vessels.

RISK INCREASES WITH

  • Adults over age 50.
  • Arthritis (inflammation of a joint).
  • Previous injuries such as automobile accidents with “whiplash” injury, athletic injuries, or falls.
  • Osteoarthritis (wear and tear on joints that comes with aging).
  • Smoking may be a risk factor.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

  • There are no specific preventive measures for cervical spondylosis. It comes with aging.
  • You can prevent some neck injuries, which might help prevent the risk. Wear protective headgear for contact sports.
  • Use seat belts in vehicles and keep headrests at proper height. Ask your health care provider about neck stretching exercises that you can do on a regular basis.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

  • Treatment does not cure the disorder, but does help improve the symptoms and prevent further problems.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

  • Reduced neck flexibility.
  • Chronic neck pain.
  • Inability to control bowel or urine functions.

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms. X-rays or MRI scans may be obtained to confirm the diagnosis.Follow any instructions from your health care provider or try the treatment steps listed.
  • Wear a cervical collar (neck brace) to prevent unexpected neck-muscle strain.
  • Apply moist heat. Take warm showers twice a day and let the water beat on neck and shoulders. Between showers, apply warm soaks to neck.Soak towel or cloth in hot water,wring out, and apply.
  • Gentle massage will often help.
  • mprove your posture. Pull in the chin and abdomen when sitting or standing. Use a firm chair and sit with buttocks against the back.
  • Sleep without a pillow. Instead, use a cervical pillow, wear a soft fabric collar, or put a small rolled towel under the neck.
  • If numbness or pain affects the hands or arms, buy or rent a cervical-traction device. To set it up, follow the directions that accompany the device.
  • Ultrasonic treatments may be recommended.
  • Surgery (sometimes) to fuse neck bones, to remove a damaged disk, or enlarge the spinal-cord space.

MEDICATIONS

  • For minor pain, you may use aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • For serious discomfort, stronger pain medicine, muscle relaxants,or antidepressants may be prescribed.

ACTIVITY

Decrease activity or rest in bed for 2 to 3 days. Increase activity as symptoms improve. Swimming and walking are good ways to exercise.

DIET

No special diet.

NOTIFY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF

  • You or a family member has symptoms of cervical spondylosis.
  • Symptoms persist or worsen, despite treatment.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.

Disclaimer: Content from: Moore, Griffith’s Instructions for Patients. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. The contents are for informational purposes only and it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Wapmed does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned here.