Cervical spondylosis is also known as neck arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis. It is a condition which is associated with a change in the bones, joints, and discs. The changes come about due to the normal tearing and wearing in old age. The disks in the neck region dehydrate and shrink causing the development of cervical spondylosis.
There are various signs and symptoms associated with the disease. Some of these symptoms include bony projections along the bones, lack of proper body and movement coordination and loss of the control of the bladder or the bowel. This condition is most common in the elderly. As one age, the disks found around the neck usually dehydrate, lose their firm and break down and become stiffer. Those over the ages of 60 years are at a greater risk of developing the condition. This disease may develop in other people without them even realizing since it does not show signs and symptoms most times. The disease can also affect people who are middle-aged.
Cervical spondylosis leads to the development of osteophytes. These are abnormal growths on the bones of the neck. There are various methods of treating cervical spondylosis and each method depends on how far the disease has progressed in the bones. The stiffness and pain in the neck can be relieved through exercises. It is normal for humans to experience degenerative changes around the neck as they age. Most people who are affected by degeneration usually show no signs and symptoms and do not experience any pain, therefore, it is not necessary for the condition to be treated. However in severe cases, the disease is associated with the presence of pain in the limbs, loss of feeling and body coordination and difficulties in movements especially walking. The disease is not fatal and one can live a normal life when diagnosed with the disease. Those suffering from severe cases can also be treated and go back to their daily routines without any problems.
Cervical spondylosis is also caused by long-term tasks or activities that cause a lot of pressure on the bones of the neck, for example, carrying loads that are heavy, those practising martial arts, construction workers, being professional gymnasts or dancers.
Bone spurs can also result in cervical spondylosis. These are an extra growth of bones in the neck to maintain the strength of the spine or make it stronger. These bones, however, may lead to degeneration, wearing and tearing of the delicate spinal areas leading to the condition.
The bones in the spine have a disk to absorb shock from various sources like lifting or twisting. The absorption of shock by these discs is made possible by the presence of a thick gel-like cushion. As time goes, this gel-like substance can dry out making the spinal disks to be dehydrated, rub together and cause pain. This rubbing together of the spinal disks can cause wearing and tearing leading to the development of cervical spondylosis.
The ligaments connecting the spinal bones can become stiff and tougher over some time. It affects the movement of the neck and makes them tight. As one moves the neck the bones wear and tear causing pain and the development of cervical spondylosis.
Anyone can suffer from cervical spondylosis. However, there are other people who are at a higher risk of developing this condition as compared to others.
These group of people includes the following:
Most people suffering from the condition rarely experience any pain or show any symptoms but some people can be severely affected. The signs and symptoms that are concerned with the development of cervical spondylosis include the following:
There is no direct way of diagnosing cervical spondylosis. However, there are a number of methods that can be used to come into conclusion that a person is suffering from cervical spondylosis.
During the diagnosis of cervical spondylosis, other diseases with the same signs and symptoms are also considered in order to properly diagnose a patient with cervical spondylosis.
During the differential diagnosis of cervical spondylosis, spinal sepsis is also considered. This is because the two diseases are both have similar signs and symptoms including the presence of fever, loss of control of the bladder and the bowels and a sudden onset of pain. However, spinal sepsis is singled out from cervical spondylosis through conduction of laboratory evaluation.
When diagnosing for the presence of cervical spondylosis, Pan Coast tumours are also considered. This is because both of the two diseases generate similar signs and symptoms including the presence of fatigue, chest, arms, and face pain, weakness and pain in the shoulder blade. In most cases, Pan Coast tumours lead to the development of lung cancer while cervical spondylosis is not associated with any form of cancer. A simple bronchoscopy can be carried out to differentiate the two.
There is no direct mechanism to determine the presence of cervical spondylosis. The treatment administered by doctors mainly focuses on reducing pain, help the patient lead a normal life and lower the risk of experiencing a permanent damage.
When treating cervical spondylosis, various medications are administered they include drugs helping the muscles to relax, narcotics for the relief of pain, anti-elliptic drugs that relieve, to some extent, the pain that occurs due to damage of the nerves, steroid injections to lessen pain.
In severe cases, the patients undergo surgery to get rid of the bone spurs giving the spinal cord and nerves more room.
The myths associated with the development of cervical spondylosis include:
Myth #1: Cervical spondylosis is cancerous
This is not true. Cancer is associated with an overgrowth of the body cells while cervical spondylosis causes degeneration, i.e., wearing and tearing and dehydration of the spinal bones.
Myth #2: Cervical spondylosis is fatal
This is not true. In most cases, people suffering from the condition do not feel any pain whatsoever. There are also no signs and symptoms indicated by the disease, therefore, a person lives a normal life. Cervical spondylosis is not fatal at all. It can also be managed in extreme cases.
Ans: In a majority of the cases, the condition rarely shows any signs and symptoms. It is also rarely associated with any form of pain. Severe cases, however, tend to be painful.
Ans: Yes. Physical therapy can be helpful in stretching of the neck and shoulder muscles. It also helps in relieving pressure on the cervical disks.
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