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Cervical Spondylosis - Topic Overview

Cervical spondylosis is a term used to describe the changes to the bones (vertebrae), joints and discs of the neck (cervical spine camera.gif) as a result of aging (disc degeneration). The vertebrae and discs wear down, possibly resulting in pain. Cervical spondylosis is commonly seen in people starting in middle age. It is related to osteoarthritis of the neck.

See pictures of the neck camera.gif and the vertebrae and discs camera.gif.

As you age, the discs gradually break down and become stiffer. The body reacts to this by developing bony growths (bone spurs or osteophytes). These growths often cause problems. The osteophytes can put pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord camera.gif, resulting in pain.

There are often no symptoms. When there are, neck pain and stiffness are the main symptoms. It is usually worse in the morning and gets better throughout the day. You may also have a headache. If the bony growths are pushing against a nerve root or the spinal cord, you may have numbness, tingling, weakness, or an aching, shooting pain in an arm or a leg.

Initial treatment consists of pain relievers, physical therapy, and strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. If this does not work, surgery may be considered to relieve the pressure on the nerve root or spinal cord.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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