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Understanding Neck Arthritis or Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis, also known as neck arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis, is a type of age related wear and tear on the cartilage and bones in your neck or cervical spine. Normally, soft disks between your vertebrae provide cushioning, but with cervical spondylosis, these disks become compressed. When this happens, the cartilage that lines the vertebrae on each side of the disc can wear away and bone spurs may develop on your vertebrae where they rub together.

Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms

Many people will develop this condition, but not have symptoms and it usually doesn't lead to disability. But, sometimes these changes in the spine can cause the spinal cord or nerve roots attached to it to become compressed. This can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Pain in the neck that may travel to your arms or shoulders
  • Headaches
  • A grinding feeling when you move your neck
  • Weakness in your arms and legs
  • Numbness in your shoulders, arms or hands
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Trouble keeping your balance
  • Trouble controlling your bladder or bowels

Diagnosis by Spine Experts

Our spine experts at Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, formerly the Brain & Spine Institute, will give you a physical examination to see if you have this condition - checking your neck, shoulders, arms and legs for any issues. It is important to discuss any neck injuries you've had and describe your current symptoms. Other tests that may help make a diagnosis include:

  • Imaging tests. X-rays, MRIs and CT scans all provide images of the structures in your spine for careful review. These imaging tests can show the bones, disks, muscles and nerves in and around your neck, as well as your spinal cord.
  • Myelography. During this test, dye is injected into the fluid around your spinal cord and then a CT scan will show how the bone spurs and disks are interacting with the individual nerves.
  • Electromyography. This test shows how well your nerves are passing along signals from your spinal cord to your muscles.

Treatment of Cervical Spondylosis

Our team at Neurosurgery & Spine Associates can recommend a variety of treatments for pain relief from cervical spondylosis, depending on your individual needs. These may include:

  • Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, like ibuprofen or aspirin, opioid pain relievers and muscle relaxants may help.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapists can teach stretching and strengthening exercises that may ease symptoms.
  • Ice or heat: Cool your neck with an ice pack or heat it with a warming pad as directed by your healthcare provider or physical therapist.
  • Collar: Wearing a soft collar around your neck for short periods may help your symptoms. It can cause your neck to weaken, however, if worn for too long.
  • Injections: Steroid medicine and pain-relieving medications, injected into the painful joint in your neck or into the space next to your spinal cord, may provide pain relief.
  • Surgery: In most cases, surgery is not needed. But our neurosurgeons offer different procedures to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves leaving your spine, if necessary. They can also remove bone from around the opening that allows the nerve to exit the spine or bone from other parts of the vertebrae. 

Make an Appointment with Neurosurgery and Spine Associates

For more information about the accurate diagnosis or treatment of neck pain, call our neck and spine specialists at Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, formerly the Brain & Spine Institute, at 678-312-2700. Complete the online form and our expert staff will contact you.

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