Cervical spondylosis is a term used to describe the changes to the bones ( vertebrae ), joints and 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.
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, physiotherapy, 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
- Aminoff MJ (2008). Mechanical and other lesions of the spine, nerve roots, and spinal cord. In L Goldman, D Ausiello, eds., Cecil Medicine, 23rd ed., pp. 2651–2662. Philadelphia: Saunders.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics|
|Last Revised||September 19, 2012|
Last Revised: September 19, 2012
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.