Cervical spondylosis is a general term used to describe age-related wear-and-tear affecting the spinal discs in your neck. Like the rest of the body, the discs and joints in our neck will degenerate. As they dehydrate and shrink over time, signs of osteoarthritis start showing with bone spurs developing along the edges of your bones.
Cervical spondylosis usually does not have any symptoms, however when they do occur, they typically involve pain and stiffness in the neck. The pain can range from mild to severe and is sometimes worsened by actions such as looking up or down for a long time. This pain usually improves with sufficient rest or lying down.
Other symptoms associated with cervical spondylosis include:
- Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
- Popping noise or sensation upon turning your neck
- Numbness or weakness in the arms, hands, and fingers
- Trouble walking, loss of balance, weakness in the hands or legs
The main cause of cervical spondylosis is degeneration of the spine as we age. These changes are normal and occur in everyone as they get older. For this reason, cervical spondylosis tends to be more common with people over the age of 60, although it can also affect people in the younger age group.
Other risk factors for cervical spondylosis include:
- Jobs that require you to make repetitive neck motions, awkward positioning or overhead work that puts extra strain on your neck
- Previous neck injuries
- Genetic factors
Your orthopaedic specialist will start with a physical examination to check the range of motion in your neck as well as test your upper limb reflexes, sensation, and muscle strength for pressure on your spinal nerves or spinal cord. Furthermore, they will also check for the presence of spinal compression by watching you walk.
They will order imaging tests like X-rays to look for disc space narrowing and bone spurs and MRI scans to check for compression of the spinal cord or pinched spinal nerves. In addition, your orthopaedic doctor may also perform special nerve tests on you to determine if the nerve signals are travelling properly to your muscles.
The treatment for cervical spondylosis is dependent on the severity of your condition and the symptoms you experience. Ultimately, the main goal of treatment is to help you relieve pain, allow you to resume your usual activities and prevent permanent injury to your spine and nerves.
Besides painkillers, some orthopaedic doctors in Singapore will also prescribe you muscle relaxants or nerve modulating medication. It is also advisable to go for physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles in both your neck as well as shoulders.
If conservative treatment proves to be ineffective or if the weakness in your arms and legs worsen, then surgery may be recommended. The goal of surgery is to create more room for your spinal cord as well as nerve roots and stabilise the cervical spine.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic surgeon for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you suspect that you are suffering from cervical spondylosis and let us help you enjoy a better quality of life.