The cervical spine is composed of 7 vertebra. The top two vertebra are specialized, the remainder are similar in their appearance. Due to considerable motion that occurs in this portion of the spine, degeneration of the bones, the discs and the joints occurs quite commonly. As these degenerative processes take place, there is often the development of bone spurs, or osteophytes. Together with enlargement of the joints and ligaments, these osteophytes can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves exiting the cervical spine. When the nerves that exit the spine are involved, symptoms usually involve the neck and arms. It the entire spinal cord is compressed, the symptoms may involve the legs, bowel and bladder, as well. The disease is very common and its incidence increases with advancing age.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis is caused from arthritis, trauma, osteoarthritis and outgrowths of bone that sometimes occur with aging. Due to the degree of mobility of the neck and the many injuries it suffers over your lifetime, it is no wonder that almost everyone develops some degree of this disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
The symptoms of cervical spondylosis depend on the degree of degenerative change. They also depend on whether the neurological elements have become sufficiently compromised so that they no longer function normally. The symptoms include neck pain and pain at the back of the head. The head pain may radiate forwards toward the eye. The pain may radiate between the shoulder blades and into the shoulders. Crunching sounds may be heard or felt with movement of the neck. Dizziness sometimes occurs. If the nerves exiting the spine are involved, there is often pain radiating into the arm. It tends to follow the distribution of the nerve that is involved. Numbness, tingling and weakness may also develop as the nerve no longer is able to function normally. There may be loss of muscle mass and atrophy. When the spinal cord is involved, there may be unsteady gait or problems with urinary or sexual function. Spasticity may develop, with jerky movements of the legs. Urge incontinence may develop secondary to a impaired bladder.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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