Cervical spondylosis is a condition that occurs when there is abnormal wear and tear of the bones and the cartilages of the neck.
This is caused by the wearing away and consequent degeneration of the cushions between the neck vertebrae and the joints of the cervical spine.
Abnormal growths, also known as spurs on the surface of the spinal bones are also a characteristic of cervical spondylosis.
What happens is that over time, this wearing away of the bones and cartilages can cause compression upon the nerve roots and the situation is further aggravated, the spinal cord also gets added to the equation and the arms and legs also get affected by the disorder.
By the time women reach the age of 60, most will show some signs of cervical spondylosis since age is the prime causal factor that brings about the sort of wear and tear that sufferers exhibit.
Spine surgery, injury or arthritis also increase the chances of developing this disorder, which usually exhibits symptoms such as
- Neck pain or stiffness. This is the sort of pain that may spread outward to the shoulders and the arms. Many experience a reduced ability to bend the head towards the shoulders or fully rotate the head.
- Numbness or loss of sensation or even change in sensation of the affected area, which is usually the neck , shoulders and arms but may also affect the legs.
- A feeling of weakness in the arms (and sometimes legs) can be observed due to deterioration of certain nerve roots or damage to the spinal cord. When this kind of damage does occur, it causes one’s reflexes to slow down as well.
- Headaches are also a symptom, but unlike usual headaches, those which are symptomatic of the cervical spondylosis are situated at the back of the head.
- Some people may also experience symptoms such as loss of balance and incontinence (this usually occurs only when there is some amount of compression in the spinal cord).
For those women that exhibit any or more of these symptoms, they may require investigation to detect if it is indeed cervical spondylosis that is causing the symptoms.
Exams and tests include a CT scan or an MRI, an X ray of the neck or the entire spine, and EMG (Electromyography is a test that checks the health of the muscles and nerves that control muscles) or an X ray of the neck and spine that is taken after the injection of a dye into the spinal column.