Spondylosis is a catch-all term for the effects of aging on the bones of your neck. This condition can occur in other areas of your body, such as your lumbar region or lower back, but it most commonly occurs in the neck, or cervical region. It is generally a breakdown of the joints between the bones of your neck, called vertebrae.
The joints of the back are cushioned by structures called discs, which are donut shaped pillows that allow the vertebrae to slide over each other in movement.
With aging, these discs can become dehydrated and unable to cushion the movement of the head and neck. This can cause them to bulge and arthritis to develop in the joints of the neck.
When the joints are injured, the body attempts to heal these injuries by forming bone spurs. The bone spurs can push on nearby nerves or the spinal cord itself and cause pain.
At Sports and Spine, we are familiar with the various back and neck issues that are collectively called spondylosis, and we can help you find relief.
Aging causes your spine to break down in four different ways. This deterioration together is known as spondylosis. The first way aging affects your neck is through the dehydration of the discs. When they don’t have as much water in them, the discs can become brittle and break, causing pain. They also do not cushion the movement of the spine as well, and this causes the bones to grind against each other.
When they break open, it is called a herniation, and the bulging part of the disc can press on adjacent nerves or on the spinal cord. Either situation can cause pain.
Other signs of aging in the spine include bone spurs and stiff ligaments. Bone spurs occur when the discs can no longer cushion the spine. The body tries to build strength back into the spinal column by creating outcroppings of bone. Unfortunately, these spurs can press against nerves and spinal cord.
Stiff ligaments are caused by calcified connective tissues that keep you from moving your back with ease. They can cause stiffness and pain in your neck or back.
The symptoms of cervical spondylosis are pain in the neck and upper body. Your symptoms will largely depend on how severe the spondylosis is and whether nerves or the spinal cord are being impinged upon by a herniated disc or a bone spur. You can experience pain in your neck – or anywhere the signs of spondylosis occur – and sometimes that pain can travel down your arm or leg.
It can cause numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the area affected by the impinged nerve. Sometimes you can lose control of your bowel or bladder, depending on which nerves are involved, and this is a sign that you need to see a doctor immediately regarding your back or neck pain.
Medications, therapy, and surgery are the gold standard treatments for cervical spondylosis. You can take over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen, to help control the swelling and pain, but sometimes more powerful drugs, such as narcotics, are needed. Anti-seizure medications and certain anti-depressants are currently showing promise in relieving the nerve pain caused by spinal impingement conditions, such as spondylosis.
Therapy for your neck is another important component to treatment. You need to exercise the muscles of your neck and back to provide support to your spinal column. Exercising even helps minimize pain because it mobilizes inflammation and decreases swelling.
In certain extreme cases, you may need surgery on your neck to alleviate the pain. This procedure can include removing the disc in question, filing down bone spurs, or even removing part of the vertebra to help reduce nerve impingement.
We at Sports and Spine believe in trying all of the least invasive measures first. Sometimes surgery does not relieve the pain, and it usually results in a loss of flexibility where the surgery was performed. However, if you are not responding to other forms of treatment, surgery may be the option for you.
We have an incredible spinal surgeon on staff that are trained in the most cutting edge procedures available.
In addition, we have a great pain management team to help you deal with your discomfort. If you have spondylosis, you owe it to yourself to make an appointment for a consultation with us today!