Cervical spondylosis is a degeneration of the joints in the neck, where there is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones. It is a form of arthritis, but rarely becomes crippling or disabling. It is a very common cause for long-term neck pain. It is estimated that more than 85% of people over 60 are suffering from it.
Our spine is divided into 3 segments:
1) cervical spine (neck region), comprising 7 vertebrae
2) thoracic spine (chest region), comprising 12 vertebrae
3) lumbar spine (lower back region), comprising 5 vertebrae.
The vertebrae are joined to each other via ligaments. In between, there are intervertebral disks, which consist of jelly-like material encased by a fibrous ring. This helps cushion our spine from external forces.
These disks degenerate and lose water content as a result of age. The facets of the vertebrae experience increased pressure and start to degenerate too. The cartilage wears away. Bone rubs on bone. As a result, arthritis develops.
Our body may respond to this increased pressure by trying to grow new bones in the facet joints, resulting in an overgrowth of bone, called Spurs. These spurs may press against our spine, compressing the nerves in our spine, causing pain.
Some tell-tale signs you have cervical spondylosis:
- numbness and weakness in your hands, fingers and arms
- neck pain associated with stiffness, which worsens if you exercise your neck
- muscle spasms in neck and shoulders
- hear or feel a grinding or popping sound when moving your neck
- headache which starts at the back of your head.
Risk Factors of Spondylosis
- family history of cervical spondylosis or neck pain
- you smoke
- your job involves a lot of neck twisting (like dancing) and overhead work (like repairing ceiling lights and air-cond units)
- you have depression or anxiety
- you have injury eg. from car accident.