Cervical spondylosis causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Medically Reviewed By : Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 

Introduction

A frequent age-related disorder that affects the vertebrae and discs of the neck is cervical spondylosis, sometimes referred to as neck arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis. Changes including bone spurs, destructive discs, and herniated discs may develop over time as a result of wear and tear on the cervical spine. However, anyone of any age who engages in repetitive neck movements or who has had neck traumas might develop this syndrome. It frequently affects the elderly. Neck discomfort, stiffness, and decreased neck mobility are just a few of the symptoms of cervical spondylosis. In some instances, if the spinal nerves are squeezed, it can cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms and hands. Thankfully, many people may control their symptoms by changing their lifestyles and using conservative therapies like physical therapy and painkillers. Surgery, however, can be required to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or
nerves in extreme cases or when conservative methods fail.

Cervical spondylosis

What is Cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis, it is also defined as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis. It means arthritis occurs in the neck region. It is defined as a medical condition categorised by the deterioration of the discs and the bones located in the neck region of the spine. It is defined as the common age related problem that occurs in old age. Their spinal discs and vertebrae get worn down by the natural ageing process. Cervical spondylosis is a serious disease in which cervical vertebrae lose their elasticity by age. It leads to decreased water content and increased vulnerability to damage. Cervical spondylosis in which the body can form abnormal bone growth called osteophytes and these abnormal    formation of bones can put pressure on spinal cord or nearby occurring nerves.

Cervical spondylosis symptoms?

Cervicalspondylosis can cause a variety of symptoms for example problems with neck pain, stiffness, balance and coordination, weakness in arms and hands, and deadness or paralysis in the arms or hands etc. Symptoms of cervical spondylosis may vary from person to person. Cervical spondylosis condition primarily affects the cervical spine, that is the small portion of the spine located in the neck region.

Causes of Cervical spondylosis?

Cervicalspondylosis can be caused by the natural ageing process.

Diagnosis of cervical spondylosis

The diagnosis of cervical spondylosis usually involves medical history assessment, imaging studies(X-ray, MRI, CT scan) physical examinations, electrodiagnostic tests etc.

1. Medical history: Doctors will begin by taking a detailed medical history which includes short term symptoms and long term symptoms and any factors that increase the symptoms.

2.Physical Examination: The patient receives a physical examination to check his or her neck and neurological health. During the examination, the doctor might:

3. Imaging studies: It may be essential to request multiple types of imaging tests to determine the cervical spondylosis’s severity and confirm the diagnosis. These may consist of:

4. Electrodiagnostic examinations: Electrodiagnostic procedures including nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography (EMG) may be used in the examination of cervical spondylosis. These examinations are helpful in assessing nerve function and identifying any compression or injury to the nerves.

5. Additional Tests: Additional tests might be necessary to identify additional conditions that could represent cervical spondylosis, such as ruptured discs or spinal infections, depending on the patient’s symptoms and medical history.

Treatment of cervical spondylosis

The goals of cervical spondylosis treatment are to reduce symptoms, enhance neck efficiency, and stop the disease’s progression. Depending on the seriousness of the cervical spondylosis and the particular symptoms that the patient is experiencing, there are many treatment options available. Here is a thorough breakdown of cervical spondylosis therapy options:

1. Conservative (non-surgical) Therapy

Medications:

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy consists of movements as well as techniques meant to strengthen the neck muscles, enhance posture, and broaden
the range of motion. A physical therapist may create an exercise plan that is specific to the demands of the client.

Heat and Cold Therapy:

Pain and muscular spasms can be lessened by applying heat or ice to the affected area. Instead of cold, which can help in lessening inflammation, heat is often used for soothing tense muscles.

Cervical traction devices:

It can be used to gently improve the neck and release pressure on compressed nerves or discs. A healthcare practitioner usually manages this therapy.

Neck Braces or Collars:

In some circumstances, lightweight or solid neck braces may be helpful to restrict neck motion and offer support while the neck recovers. However, prolonged use of these substances is not suggested because it can lead to a loss of muscle.

Lifestyle modifications:

Promoting good posture, appropriate workplace changes, and lifestyle changes like preventing actions that worsen symptoms (such as staring down at a smartphone for a prolonged amount of time) can all help reduce symptom recurrence.

2.Medications for Nerve-Related Symptoms:

Corticosteroid injections into the affected area may be considered to reduce inflammation as well as minimise nerve-related symptoms when cervical spondylosis results in compression of the nerves and symptoms like numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or hands occur.

3.Surgery (for Serious Cases):

When non-surgical options fail and the symptoms are severe, and growing, then surgery might be considered. There are various surgical procedures for cervical spondylosis.

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF):

To strengthen the spine, in which the problematic disc(s) are removed, and nearby vertebrae are fused together using bone grafts or implants.

Cervical Disc Replacement:

In this procedure, the injured disc will be switched out for an artificial one in order to maintain motion at the treated level and relieve pressure on the nerves, used in the treatment of cervical spondylosis.

Posterior foraminotomy:

By removing abnormal bone or tissue that is compressing the nerves in the cervical spine, this procedure is done to give them additional space.

In any case, effective management of cervical spondylosis and enhancement of the patient’s quality of life can be achieved through early detection, regular meetings with medical professionals, and adherence to the prescribed treatment plan.

Conclusion

In conclusion, cervical spondylosis, which affects the vertebrae and discs in the neck, is a common and frequently treatable disorder that is primarily brought on by ageing-related wear and tear. Many people find relief with non-surgical treatments like physical therapy, pain management, and lifestyle changes, despite the discomfort and decreased neck mobility it might bring. In order to avoid or manage cervical spondylosis, it is essential to exercise frequently and keep proper posture. Surgery may be considered to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves if symptoms continue or get worse. Surgery is often saved for serious or developing conditions, though. Cervical spondylosis sufferers can live happy lives and keep their necks functional with the right treatment and attention. An individual can effectively manage this condition and lessen its
influence on their daily activities and quality of life by receiving an early diagnosis, receiving the proper therapy, and making lifestyle adjustments.