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What Is Cervical Spondylosis?

By Madhusudhan Tammisetti

Cervical spondylosis is age-related wear and tear on the bones, ligaments, discs, and cartilage in the neck that may lead to neck pain, stiffness of the neck, and other symptoms. This condition is sometimes called osteoarthritis or arthritis of the neck.

Cervical Spine Parts

The whole spine consists of 24 vertebrae (bones of the spine). The cervical spine (neck) comprises seven vertebrae, starting at the skull's base. The spinal cord and its nerves pass into an opening of the whole vertebral spine. The spinal cord and nerves bear signals from the brain and the rest of the body, including muscles and organs. Discs are located between each vertebra, and they function as shock absorbers in the body. The discs are made with connective tissue that's flexible and strong and is filled with a gel-like substance.

Each pair of vertebrae contains three joints between them. The front joint is known as the intervertebral disc. Two joints located in the spine's back are called facet joints. Cartilage is in every joint, and it cushions the bones' ends. Ligaments are soft tissue bands that bind the vertebrae together.

The regular wearing down of these sections of the spine is spondylosis. Over time, the cartilage wears off, discs lose volume and get dry and cracked, ligaments may thicken, and bone spurs may develop in places that no longer contain cartilage when bones brush against each other. All of these alterations are called spondylosis.

Causes

With age, your spine may undergo changes because of decades of natural wear and tear. The discs in the vertebrae start to change in middle age.

The spinal discs in the neck may degenerate slowly. The discs get thinner over time, and there is less elasticity in the soft tissue. When you or your parents measure a marginally shorter height than years before, it's due to the discs' normal settling or collapsing.

Natural aging may cause tearing or cracking of a part of the spinal disc. This is known as a herniated disc. The herniation may cause the disc to protrude outward, pressing on the spinal nerve or nearby tissue. This pressure may lead to pain, numbness, or tingling.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that triggers the degeneration of cartilage in the joints. Cartilage degenerates faster in osteoarthritis patients than with natural aging.

Symptoms

You may not even know that you may be suffering from spondylosis.

The main symptom associated with spondylosis is neck pain or stiffness. When you move the neck, the pain may get worse. Other symptoms include muscle spasms, popping, grinding, or clicking sound when moving the neck, headaches, and dizziness.

A chiropractor may recommend physical therapy, application of ice or heat packs, massage, and complete rest to recuperate from spondylosis.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Orlando, Fla.

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