Cervical spondylosis is a catch-all term used by medical professionals to describe age-related wear and tear to the discs and soft tissues in the cervical (neck) region of the spine. Spondylosis is very common in people over the age of 50, and is a contributing factor to the development of a number of degenerative spine conditions.
How Cervical Spondylosis Develops
As we age, we experience degeneration in the bones, muscles, and other soft tissues. This is a normal part of the aging process, and it occurs all over the body. As degeneration begins on the spine, it can affect the discs that separate and cushion the vertebrae, leading to the formation of cracks and fissures, as well as the thinning of the discs themselves. This can cause a host of problems, including herniated discs, bulging discs, and pinched nerves, which in turn causes pain as the nerves are irritated by these spinal abnormalities.
Another component of cervical spondylosis involves the wearing away of the cartilage that protects the facet joints that allow the spine to bend and flex. As this cartilage deteriorates, the bones of these joints may rub together, causing pain, stiffness, and damage. As the bones heal, they can develop bone spurs, which can intrude on nerves, resulting in painful nerve irritation.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
Although spondylosis is a common condition, many people don’t realize they have it. That’s because spondylosis is a gradual, degenerative disorder with symptoms that set in slowly over time. Some common symptoms of cervical spondylosis include:
- Stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulders, especially upon waking
- Tingling or numbness in the arms, hands, or shoulders
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination and slow reflexes