Cervical spondylosis is most commonly found in people over 55 due to wear and tear that affects the discs in the neck and usually progresses with age. As chronic neck pain is a common complaint in the elderly, proper diagnosis is necessary to determine whether cervical spondylosis and/or osteoarthritis is present. Although usually found within an older population, cervical spondylosis is becoming more and more common among professionals who have complacent jobs sitting behind desks in front of computers for hours or at call centers where people sit in one posture.
Cervical spondylosis is caused by long term or chronic degeneration of the cervical spine. Previous neck injuries may also cause cervical spondylosis as the person ages.
- Neck pain with stiffness.
- Radiating pain through the shoulders and to either arm or hand.
- Possible chest pain or possibly.
- Tingling or prickling sensations in arms, hands legs or feet.
- Numbness or weakness in arms and hands.
- Possible numbness of weakness in legs and feet.
- Changes in bladder control or bowel movements.
After collecting and reviewing the patient's medical history, a physical examination will be done to determine the patient's cervical flexibility and range of motion as well as checking their symptoms. A myelogram, MRI or other imaging tests may be done in order to rule out other conditions and to determine if surgical intervention is necessary.
Treatment of cervical spondylosis may vary depending on the severity. Depending on whether the condition is mild, serious or severe, our dedicated doctors at SCCNS will evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment for you.
Mild Cervical Spondylosis cases may benefit from conservative treatment which may include:
- Over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Use of a cervical collar periodically throughout the day to minimize neck motion and strain on the neck muscles.
- Physical therapy possibly combined with massage therapy.
- Specified upper body and neck exercises to stretch and strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles.
- Alternating heat and ice packs over a period of time.
More serious cases may benefit from more aggressive non-surgical treatments which may include:
- Cervical traction either during physical therapy or on a home traction unit.
- Modified upper body and neck exercises.
- Prescription muscle relaxants, pain pills, and/or nerve blockers.
- Pain injections to help reduce pain and inflammation.
In cases in which both conservative and non-surgical treatments fail, surgery may be necessary in order to prevent further neurological damage and/or resolve underlying problems. The type of surgery would be evaluated by one of our expert neurological surgeons and determined based upon the underlying cause and which approach would be the most beneficial and least invasive to the patient.
Surgical options may include:
- Anterior approach through the front of the neck to remove a herniated disk or bone spurs if either are found to be the underlying problem.
- Posterior approach through the back of the neck if it is determined that the channel that houses the spinal cord has narrowed.
The details of each type of surgery will be discussed with you by your surgeon as well as the benefits and risks of each. The goal of any treatment is to relieve the pain caused from the cervical spondylosis and to help you continue your daily activities as well as prevent further injury to the nerves and spinal cord.