Neck arthritis also called cervical spondylosis

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Cervical Spondylosis refers to a degenerative process affecting the vertebral disc and facet joints that gradually develops with age (arthritis). It is also known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis, it is an age-related condition that affects the joints and discs of the neck. 

Causes

Bone Spurs: a condition of overgrowths of bone as a result of the growth of extra bone by the body to make the spine stronger. The extra bone can press on delicate areas of the spine, such as the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in pain.

Dehydrated Spinal Disks: the spinal bones have discs between them, which are thick, pad-like cushions that absorb the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities. When the gel-like material inside these disks dries off, the bones (spinal vertebrae) begin to rub together more and thereby become painful. 

Herniated Disks: the spinal disks can develop cracks, which allow leakage of the internal cushioning material. This material can press on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in symptoms such as arm numbness and sciatica.

Injury: neck injury such as during a fall or car accident, this can accelerate the aging process.

Ligament Stiffness: when the tough cords that connect your spinal bones to each other become stiffer over time, it affects your neck movement and makes the neck feel tight.

Overuse: if the is extra pressure on the sine due to the nature of work, it can result in early wear and tear of the disc.

Symptoms

Pain around the shoulder blade which becomes prominent when: 

standing

sitting

sneezing

coughing

tilting your neck backward

Weakness of the muscle

Rear-head headache

Neck pain

Stiffness of the neck

Scapular and shoulder pain

Spinal cord compression

Risk Factors

Aging is the prominent and predominant risk factor. Other factors are: 

Injuries to the neck

Occupational engagements that put extra strain on your neck from heavy lifting

Placing the neck in an uncomfortable position for a long periods of time 

Family history of cervical spondylosis

Smoking

Obesity 

Seeking Medical Help

The conditions below call for seeking medical attention:

Sudden onset of numbness or tingling in the shoulder, arms, or legs 

Lose bowel or bladder control

Pain and discomfort 

Diagnoses

Physical examination to test your reflexes, checking for muscle weakness or sensory deficits, and testing the range of motion of your neck and see you walk. All of this helps your doctor determine if your nerves and spinal cord are under too much pressure.

If cervical spondylosis is diagnosed, you will do imaging tests and nerve function tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Imaging tests such as:

X-rays to check for bone spurs and other abnormalities.

CT scans to provide detailed images of your neck.

MRI, which produces images using radio waves and a magnetic field to locate pinched nerves.

In a myelogram, a dye injection is used to highlight certain areas of your spine. CT scans or X-rays are then used to provide more detailed images of these areas.

An electromyogram (EMG) to check that your nerves are functioning normally when sending signals to your muscles

A nerve conduction study is used to check the speed and strength of the signals your nerves send. This is done by placing electrodes on your skin where the nerve is located.

Nerve Function Tests

Treatment Options

Physical Therapy: this helps you stretch your neck and shoulder muscles. This makes them stronger and ultimately helps to relieve pain. 

Medications: muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine, to treat muscle spasms

Narcotics, such as hydrocodone, for pain relief

Anti-epileptic drugs, such as gabapentin, to relieve pain caused by nerve damage

Steroid injections, such as prednisone, to reduce tissue inflammation and subsequently lessen pain

Surgery: to get rid of bone spurs, parts of your neck bones, or herniated disks to give your spinal cord and nerves more room. Surgery is rarely necessary for cervical spondylosis. However, a doctor may recommend it if the pain is severe and it is affecting your ability to move your arms.

Home Treatment 

Use a heating pad or a cold pack on your neck to provide pain relief for sore muscles.

Exercise regularly to help you recover faster

Wear a soft neck brace or collar to get temporary relief. 

 



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