What is a Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis refers to the degeneration in the neck bones and is usually common with individuals who are older. The spinal discs in between the neck bones wear out and become less hydrated as we age thus resulting in bony projections along joint lines. The symptoms and presentation of cervical spondylosis are highly varied and would require a Physiotherapist to assess the problems associated with
How do I know if I have cervical spondylosis?
Signs and symptoms of cervical spondylosis may include:
- Stiffness in the neck
- Loss of range of movement in the neck
- Grinding sensations when moving the neck
- Age usually >40 years old
How is cervical spondylosis diagnosed and managed?
If the symptoms are less severe and there are no neurological signs involved, a simple plain-film X-ray ordered by a Doctor is enough to diagnose cervical spondylosis. However, in more severe cases or if more sinister pathology is suspected then an MRI or CT scan might be warranted to determine treatment options.
How can Physiotherapy help?
As the presentation for cervical spondylosis varies greatly, the Physiotherapist would have to conduct a thorough assessment of your neck region to determine the possible causes of your neck pain. This would normally include a neurological exam of your upper limbs, a check on the range of motion of your neck as well as the strength and flexibility of the surrounding muscles.
Treatment may include but is not limited to:
● Advise and education pertaining to your condition
● Soft tissue therapy
● Movement re-education
● Personalised home exercise program
● Heat therapy
● Joint mobilisation
● Manual traction
● Ultrasound therapy
Who is most at risk for getting cervical spondylosis?
Individuals start to show signs of cervical spondylosis as early as 30 years old but are most commonly found in the 40-60 year old age group. In addition, jobs requiring repetitive neck movements or being prolonged awkward positions could be potential risk factors. A history of neck pain or injury is also associated with early cervical spondylosis.
How common is cervical spondylosis?
Extremely common! Cervical spondylosis is akin to having grey hair and wrinkles on the inside of the body, it is part of the body’s natural ageing process and would not necessarily lead to pain. In fact, studies found that about 85% of the population above 60 years old have cervical spondylosis and roughly 70% of these individuals are asymptomatic.
Are there ways to prevent cervical spondylosis?
It is difficult and nearly impossible to prevent cervical spondylosis due to the ageing process but here are a few tips to ensure that we can reduce our risk:
- Reduce/quit smoking
- Aim to have good sitting habits
- Maintaining shoulder and neck strength and flexibility through exercises