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Definition of Cervical Spondylosis
Narrowing of the channel between the vertebrae in the neck through which the spinal cord passes. Cervical spondylosis results from chronic, degenerative osteoarthritis in which there is extensive inflammation and damage to the cartilage disks that separate and cushion the cervical vertebrae (bones of the neck).
The damage is permanent and eventually restricts the movement of the neck. Pressure against the nerve roots of the spinal cord may cause tingling or loss of sensation in the shoulders and arms. Sometimes the pressure also causes weakness of the muscles in the upper back and the arms.
Cervical spondylosis is more common in people over age 60.
Symptoms of cervical spondylosis include
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain along the back of the neck that radiates into the shoulders and upper arms
- Abnormal sensation in the upper back and arms, sometimes extending to the hands and fingers
The diagnostic path includes x-ray of the neck and upper back, which typically reveals the changes in the alignment of the vertebrae as well as the formation of bone spurs and calcifications within the disks.
Additional imaging procedures such as computed tomography (ct) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (mri), and myelogram (injection of radio-opaque dye into the spinal column) often show the degree to which the spondylosis compresses the nerve roots or, when degeneration is severe, the spinal cord itself.
Cervical Spondylosis Treatment
Treatment options include nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to relieve inflammation and pain. A soft cervical collar that immobilizes the neck allows the muscles of the neck to relax, helping inflammation to recede.
Injections of steroid medications can often reduce inflammation that does not respond to other treatments. Heat and physical therapy aid healing and restoration of movement. Though cervical spondylosis is a chronic and progressive condition, most people are able to obtain relieve through a combination of medical and lifestyle methods.
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