Cervical spondylosis refers to common agerelated changes in the area of the spine at the back of the neck. With age, the vertebrae (thecomponent bones of the spine) gradually form bone spurs, and their shockabsorbing disks slowly shrink. These changes can alter thealignment and stability of the spine. They may go unnoticed, or they may produce problems related to pressure on the spine andassociated nerves and blood vessels. This pressure can cause weakness, numbness, and pain in various areas of the body.
Causes and symptoms: As people age, shrinkage of the vertebral disks prompts the vertebrae to form osteophytes to stabilize the back bone. However, theposition and alignment of the disks and vertebrae may shift despite the osteophytes. Symptoms may arise from problems with one ormore disks or vertebrae. Osteophyte formation and other changes do not necessarily lead to symptoms, but after age 50, half of the population experiencesoccasional neck pain and stiffness.
Diagnosis: Cervical spondylosis is often suspected based on the symptoms and their history. Careful neurological examination can help determinewhich nerve roots are involved, based on the location of the pain and numbness, and the pattern of weakness and changes in reflexresponses. To confirm the suspected diagnosis, and to rule out other possibilities, imaging tests are ordered.