What is cervical spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the joints in your neck. Also known as cervical osteoarthritis, this condition usually appears in men and women older than 40 and progresses with age. Although cervical spondylosis affects both sexes equally, men usually develop it at an earlier age than women do.
As you age, the bones and cartilage that make up your backbone and neck gradually deteriorate, sometimes forming irregular bony outgrowths called bone spurs. These changes, which are characteristic of cervical spondylosis, occur in everyone's spine. Still, many people with signs of cervical spondylosis on X-rays manage to escape the associated symptoms, which include pain, stiffness and muscle spasms.
At the other extreme, cervical spondylosis may compress one or more of the spinal nerves branching out of the cervical vertebrae — a condition called cervical radiculopathy. Bone spurs and other irregularities caused by cervical spondylosis also may reduce the diameter of the canal that houses the spinal cord, resulting in cervical myelopathy. Cervical radiculopathy and cervical myelopathy can lead to permanent disability. Fortunately, most adults with cervical spondylosis — nearly 90 percent — will not lose nerve function, even temporarily.