Cervical Spondylosis typically affects more than 85 percent of people over the age of 60 but can be a source of pain and dysfunction at age 30 and beyond. It is the degeneration of the joints of the neck over the course of time. Though categorized as a form of arthritis, cervical spondlyosis rarely becomes crippling or disabling.
What Causes Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis is the result of degenerative disc disease. As patients age, the amount of fluid content within the spinal discs dries out, causing the disc to weaken. Disc space can collapse and loss of disc space height can occur.
The facet joints within the spine begin to degenerate and develop arthritis due to increased pressure. Also, the cartilage that protects these joints slowly wears away, resulting in arthritis. The body then compensates for the cartilage and produces new bone in its place, resulting in bone spurs. Over time, these bony protrusions may narrow the space that the spinal nerves pass through.
There may be an increased risk of cervical spondylosis such as:
- Trauma or injury
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
Pain associated with this condition can range from mild to severe and may be worsened by looking up or down for an extended period of time. Lying down or rest may also relieve pain.
Other symptoms of cervical spondylosis include:
- Grinding and popping sound or feeling in neck during movement
- Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulder area
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Numbness and weakness in arms, hands and fingers
- Trouble walking, loss of balance or weakness in the legs
How Is Cervical Spondylosis Diagnosed?
In order to determine the source of your neck pain and confirm a diagnosis of cervical spondylosis, Dr. LaRocca will perform a comprehensive examination, recording a physical examination and the complete history of your neck pain.
A thorough physical examination may include:
- Blood flow
- Flexibility of the neck
- Touch sensation
- Walking test
In addition, Dr. LaRocca may also feel for tender points (trigger points) or swollen glands by pressing on the neck and shoulder area.
Diagnostic testing may also be conducted, including:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: A special x-ray procedure that is used to evaluate bone and the spinal canal.
- Electromyography (EMG): A nerve conduction study that tests for nerve damage using electrodes.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test is ideal for examining the soft tissues of the body for damage or abnormalities such as muscles, discs, nerves and the spinal cord.
- Myelography: A special x-ray that uses injected dye to highlight the spinal canal and nerve roots.
- X-rays: X-rays are used to examine the alignment of the neck as well as potentially lost disc height or bone spur development.
What Treatments Are Available For Cervical Spondylosis?
With the latest advances in tools and techniques of the industry, Dr. LaRocca and his team with New Jersey Neck & Back Institute (NJNBI) offer non-surgical options as part of a comprehensive treatment plan including:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Anterior corpectomy and fusion
- Cervical epidural block
- Cervical facet joint block
- Ice, heat and other modalities
- Physical therapy
- Soft collars
- Steroid injections