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Cervical spondylosis is a term used to describe the changes
to the bones (vertebrae),
discs of the neck (cervical spine) as a
result of aging (disc degeneration). The vertebrae and discs wear down,
possibly resulting in pain. Cervical spondylosis is commonly seen in people starting in middle age. It is related to osteoarthritis of the neck.
See pictures of
the neck and the
vertebrae and discs.
As you age, the discs gradually break down and
become stiffer. The body reacts to this by developing bony growths
(bone spurs or osteophytes). These growths often cause problems. The osteophytes can put
pressure on the
spinal nerve roots or
spinal cord, resulting in pain.
There are often no symptoms. When
there are, neck pain and stiffness are the main symptoms. It is usually worse
in the morning and gets better throughout the day. You may also have a
headache. If the bony growths are pushing against a nerve root or the spinal
cord, you may have numbness, tingling, weakness, or an aching, shooting pain in
an arm or a leg.
Initial treatment consists of pain relievers,
physical therapy, and strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. If this does
not work, surgery may be considered to relieve the pressure on the nerve root
or spinal cord.
Other Works Consulted
Barbano RL (2012). Mechanical and other lesions of the
spine, nerve roots, and spinal cord. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds.,
Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 2258–2269. Philadelphia:
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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