Spondylosis is a disorder that is caused by the degeneration of the discs which are soft cushions, present between the vertebrae. This results in the vertebrae rubbing together and exerting pressure on the nerves. As the condition progresses, the bones may move out of their natural positions, causing pain and disability.
How is it caused?
Wear and tear of the joints that accompanies aging, a condition called osteoarthritis.
Inflammation of the joint.
Injuries such as automobile accidents, athletic injuries, sudden jerks on the arms, falls.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Loss of sensation of the shoulder or arms.
Weakness of the arms.
Difficulty in moving the head, and neck stiffness that may deteriorate gradually.
Loss of control of the bladder or the bowel.
Loss of balance.
Ear noise or buzzing.
Muscle weakness in the shoulders, arms or hands.
How is the condition diagnosed?
X-rays of the neck or MRI scans may be obtained to show abnormalities that indicate cervical spondylosis. A CT scan or spine MRI confirms the diagnosis. A myelogram (X-ray or CT scan after injection of a dye into the spinal column) may be recommended to clearly identify the compression of the nerves.
What is the treatment?
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and prevent permanent spinal cord injury. Specific head movements may cause some pain and discomfort, for which painkillers may be given. Exercises to strengthen the neck muscles may be suggested. A cervical collar may be used to restrict neck movements and reduce pain. In some cases, neck traction may also be suggested in addition to the cervical collar.
Surgical decompression of the spinal cord in the neck may be required in severe cases if there is loss of movement, sensation or function.