Cervical spondylosis is a medical term used to refer to age-related ‘wear and tear’ that can affect bones and tissues in the neck.
The most common symptoms of cervical spondylosis are neck pain, stiffness and headaches. More rarely, it can trap nerves in the neck, leading to:
- pain radiating from the arms
- pins and needles in the arms and legs
- loss of feeling in your hands and legs
- loss of co-ordination and difficulty walking
Pain usually comes and goes, with flare-ups followed by symptom-free periods.
Around 1 in 10 people develop long-lasting (chronic) pain.
Other, more severe, symptoms usually only occur if:
- a slipped disc or other bone pinches or irritates a nearby nerve (known as cervical radiculopathy)
- the spinal canal (bones that surround and protect the nerves) becomes narrower, compressing the spinal cord inside (known as cervical myelopathy)
Treating cervical spondylosis
In most cases the symptoms of cervical spondylosis can be relieved using a combination of:
- exercise, such as swimming and walking
- In a small number of cases surgery may be required to remove or repair a damaged section of the cervical spine.
What causes cervical spondylosis?
As people get older the effects of aging can wear down bones and tissues that make up the spine. For example, the discs of the spine can dry out and shrink and the ligaments can stiffen.
This ‘wear and tear’ can then result in some degree of cervical spondylosis.
Who is affected
Cervical spondylosis is a very common condition. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 adults will have some degree of cervical spondylosis by the time they are 60.
The outlook for most cases of cervical spondylosis is generally good. Most cases respond well to treatment after a few weeks. Though it can be common for symptoms to reoccur later.
In around 1 in 10 cases a person can go on to develop long-term (chronic) neck pain.