WHAT IS CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS 

Cervical spondylosis is a common, age-related condition that affects the joints and discs in your cervical spine, which is in your neck. It’s also known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis.
It develops from the wear and tear of cartilage and bones. While it’s largely the result of age, it can be caused by other factors as well.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the condition is present in more than 90 percent of people aged 60 and older.
Some people who have it never experience symptoms. For others, it can cause chronic, severe pain and stiffness. However, many people who have it are able to conduct normal daily
CAUSES 
The bones and protective cartilage in your neck are prone to wear and tear that can lead to cervical spondylosis. Possible causes of the condition include:

Bone spurs

These overgrowths of bone are the result of the body trying to grow extra bone to make the spine stronger.
However, the extra bone can press on delicate areas of the spine, such as the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in pain.

Dehydrated spinal discs

Your spinal bones have discs between them, which are thick, padlike cushions that absorb the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities. The gel-like material inside these discs can dry out over time. This causes your bones (spinal vertebrae) to rub together more, which can be painful.
This process can begin to happen in your 30s.

Herniated discs

Spinal discs can develop cracks, which allows leakage of the internal cushioning material. This material can press on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in symptoms such as arm numbness as well as pain that radiates down an arm. Learn more about herniated discs.

Injury

If you’ve had an injury to your neck (during a fall or car accident, for example), this can accelerate the aging process.

Ligament stiffness

The tough cords that connect your spinal bones to each other can become even stiffer over time, which affects your neck movement and makes the neck feel tight.

Overuse

Some occupations or hobbies involve repetitive movements or heavy lifting (such as construction work). This can put extra pressure on the spine, resulting in early wear and tear

RISK FACTOR 

The greatest risk factor for cervical spondylosis is agingCervical spondylosis often develops as a result of changes in your neck joints as you age. Disc herniation, dehydration, and bone spurs are all results of aging.
Factors other than aging can increase your risk of cervical spondylosis. These include:
  • neck injuries
  • work-related activities that put extra strain on your neck from heavy lifting
  • holding your neck in an uncomfortable position for prolonged periods of time or repeating the same neck movements throughout the day (repetitive stress)
  • genetic factors (family history of cervical spondylosis)
  • smoking
  • being overweight and inactive

SYMPTOMS 

Most people with cervical spondylosis don’t have significant symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or occur suddenly.
One common symptom is pain around the shoulder blade. Some complain of pain along the arm and in the fingers. The pain might increase when:
  • standing
  • sitting
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • tilting your neck backward
Another common symptom is muscle weakness. Muscle weakness makes it hard to lift the arms or grasp objects firmly.
Other common signs include:
  • a stiff neck that becomes worse
  • headaches that mostly occur in the back of the head
  • tingling or numbness that mainly affects the shoulders and arms, although it can also occur in the legs
Symptoms that occur less frequently often include a loss of balance and a loss of bladder or bowel control. These symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.

DIAGNOSIS 

Physical exam

Your doctor will start by asking you several questions regarding your symptoms. Then, they’ll run through a set of tests.
Typical exams include testing your reflexes, checking for muscle weakness or sensory deficits, and testing the range of motion of your neck.
Your doctor might also want to watch how you walk. All of this helps your doctor determine if your nerves and spinal cord are under too much pressure.
If your doctor suspects cervical spondylosis, they’ll then order imaging tests and nerve function tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Imaging tests

  • X-rays can be used to check for bone spurs and other abnormalities.
  • A CT scan can provide more detailed images of your neck.
  • An MRI scan, which produces images using radio waves and a magnetic field, helps your doctor locate pinched nerves.
  • In a myelogram, a dye injection is used to highlight certain areas of your spine. CT scans or X-rays are then used to provide more detailed images of these areas.
  • An electromyogram (EMG) is used to check that your nerves are functioning normally when sending signals to your muscles. This test measures your nerves’ electrical activity.
  • A nerve conduction study checks the speed and strength of the signals a nerve sends. This is done by placing electrodes on your skin where the nerve is located