What is Cervical Spondylosis?

This is general age-related wear and tear in the neck which affects all of us. Cervical spondylosis is very common, occurring in 85% of us over the age of 60. Most people have no symptoms, but neck pain can occur. 

There are several other similar names for cervical spondylosis, which can be all a bit bewildering: 

  • Osteoarthritis – arthritis due to age 
  • Wear and tear – my favourite simple descriptive term 
  • Joint degeneration – this can imply a more localized or injured area 
  • Degenerative joint disease – another term for osteoarthritis 
  • Spondylitis – which implies a joint inflammation. See Spondylitis vs Spondylosis 

Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis 

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck. 
  • Cervical Radiculopathy with nerve irritation causing tingling, numbness and weakness in your arms and hands. 
  • Cervical Myelopathy with symptoms into the legs or feet, lack of coordination and difficulty walking. 

Spinal Changes with Spondylosis or Wear and Tear 

  • Disc Dehydration, with drying, shrinking, loss of height, and thinning of the discs. This starts after the age of 40
  • Disc bulges or herniations which can cause cervical radiculopathy. 
  • Disk degeneration puts more stress on certain parts of the spine and the body reacts to strengthen these areas, forming ‘bone spurs’, which can reduce mobility and sometimes cause nerve root, cervical radiculopathy or spinal cord impingement, and cervical myelopathy. 
  • Spinal ligaments stiffen, with reduced neck flexibility. With the loss of tensile and ductile strength, ligament strains can cause neck spasm and pain in the surrounding muscles. 

Causes of Cervical Spondylosis:

  • Cervical spondylosis increases with age.
  • Repetitive stresses of daily life. Jobs that involve straining the neck in awkward positions, with a lot of overhead work or repetitive twisting.
  • Poor posture and slouching – which is becoming ever more prevalent in our sedentary lifestyles.
  • Neck injuries to a specific level increase the stress on the whole neck, which leads to cervical spondylosis.
  • Genetic factors – some people or families just seem to have more wear and tear than others.
  • Nutrition and diet can have an effect on cervical spondylosis.
  • Smoking.

Chiropractic Treatment of Cervical Spondylosis

Whilst degenerative changes cannot be reversed, if symptoms of pain or stiffness occur then chiropractic treatment can be very helpful in maintaining good joint function in the areas of increased stress, above and below the affected levels, maintaining joint mobility and keeping the surrounding muscles relaxed, mobile and responsive, which improves mobility and helps lessen the pain.

Treatment may include joint manipulation to the tightened spinal segments, or may involve deep releasing muscles techniques to the cervical spine, suboccipital muscles, thoracic spine and upper back especially.

Many clients find that their conditions are significantly helped, although with the chronic nature of the wear and tear the symptoms may recur or require maintenance Chiropractic treatments.