Cervical osteoarthritis is also called cervical spondylosis. It is a painful medical condition that affects the discs, joints, and bones of the neck. It usually occurs with the wear-and-tear of old age. As we age, the spinal discs lose fluid and become stiffer. Bones and ligaments get thicker which can cause the interior of the spinal column to narrow. Narrowing may also occur when the discs and cartilage degenerate. Spurs may form on the neck bones.
People over 50 are most likely to develop cervical osteoarthritis. Anyone with a prior neck injury may be at risk for developing cervical spondylosis. Anyone who works in a job that puts stress on the neck is at risk for this painful condition – people who sit for a long time, for example. Bad posture is another risk factor.
The symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis
Some of the signs of this condition are:
- A stiff or painful neck
- Shoulder or arm pain
- Not being able to turn your head which can make it difficult to sleep or drive
Rest can help. Most people complain of pain at the start of the day and the end of the day.
According to WebMd, when cervical osteoarthritis puts pressure on the spinal cord, a more painful condition called cervical myelopathy may result. Symptoms of this spinal cord pressure condition include:
- Muscle spams
- Lack of bowel and bladder control
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Difficulty walking
- Poor reflexes
If the bone spurs press on the nerves too hard, a condition called cervical radiculopathy may result. This condition causes shooting paints in the arms.
Diagnosis and treatment of Cervical Osteoarthritis
As with most ailments, your doctor will take your medical history and conduct a physical exam. Imaging tests include a CT scan and an MRI. In severe cases, the physician may refer you to a neurologist.
The initial prescription is rest. Other treatments include:
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications
- Referral to a chiropractor
- Wearing a cervical collar
- Physical therapy
- Injections of corticosteroids (with a local anesthetic) into the spinal joints or other spinal locations. These injections are also called epidural steroid injections. Another name is cervical facet joint injection
Cervical osteoarthritis tens to be chronic but doesn’t necessarily worsen with time. Surgery is a last resort and often can be avoided. Your pain management physician can explain how surgery works and answer your questions.
This blog does not constitute medical advice.
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