CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS

Spondylosis

Spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis) is a degenerative disorder that may cause loss of normal spinal structure and function. Although aging is the primary cause, the location and rate of degeneration is individual. The degenerative process of spondylosis may affect the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), or lumbar (low back) regions of the spine.

Spondylosis Often Affects The Following Spinal Elements:

Intervertebral Discs As people age, certain biochemical changes occur affecting tissue found throughout the body. In the spine, the structure of the intervertebral discs (annulus fibrosus, lamellae, nucleus pulposus) may be compromised. The annulus fibrosus (eg, tire-like) is composed of 60 or more concentric bands of collagen fiber termed lamellae. The nucleus pulposus is a gel-like substance inside the intervertebral disc encased by the annulus fibrosus. Collagen fibers form the nucleus along with water and proteoglycans. The degenerative effects of aging can weaken the annulus fibrosus' structure, causing the 'tire tread' to wear or tear. The water content of the nucleus decreases with age affecting its ability to rebound following compression (e.g. shock absorbing quality). The structural alterations from degeneration may decrease disc height and increase the risk for disc herniation.

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis (spon-dee-low-sis) can be thought of as "grey hair" of the spine. This means that if you live long enough (and that may only mean forty- to fifty-years of age in some populations) x-rays of your spine will eventually show signs of cervical spondylosis.

As described above, the term refers to osteophytes (os-t-o-fights), or bony overgrowths, that protrude from the vertebral bodies as well as narrowing occurring across the disc spaces as the disc degenerates. Though they can compress the spinal cord (like Mrs. S) or a spinal nerve root (like Mr. D), the vast majority of these osteophytes do not cause any nerve problems. They are a sign, however, that the disc between the vertebrae and the facets (fah-sets) has become degenerative.

Degenerative discs can cause pain. The mechanism of pain is, unfortunately, not well understood. It is thought to be transmitted by tiny nerve endings that innervate the back part of the disc and facet joints. Degeneration can cause pain from the disc, facet joint, or both concomitantly. Diagnostic efforts are aimed to determine which of these structures are the pain generators. Therapy is directed to relieving stresses being placed on these areas.

The complexity of the cervical (neck) anatomy and its wide range of motion make this spinal segment susceptible to disorders associated with degenerative change. Neck pain from spondylosis is common. The pain may spread into the shoulder or down the arm. When a bone spur (osteophyte) causes nerve root compression, extremity (eg, arm) weakness may result. In rare cases, bone spurs that form at the front of the cervical spine, may cause difficult swallowing (dysphagia).

Facts And Tips About Spondylosis

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Spondylosis generally develops in people over 40, but that doesn't mean that it can't affect younger people, too.

If you have a pain flare up, your doctor may recommend a little bed rest. You won't be in bed long, though, because extended bed rest is no longer recommended for back pain.

Spondylosis is also known as spinal osteoarthritis or even just spinal arthritis.

Spondylosis is a degenerative process—what you get when you add wear and tear to getting older. All of us may have spondylosis to some degree, but it might not cause pain or other symptoms: it all depends on where the spondylosis has affected your spine.

Men generally develop cervical spondylosis before women.

Related Spinal Disorders

Sciatica

Sciatica

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Herniated Discs

Herniated Discs

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical Spondylosis

Sciatica Causes

Sciatica Causes

Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Ruptured Disc

Ruptured Disc

Lumbar Spondylosis

Lumbar Spondylosis

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis

Bulging Disc

Bulging Disc

Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Spinal Anatomy Animation Video

 

Spinal Anatomy Animation Video Transcript

The spine is a column of bones that forms the axial skeleton; this framework provides strong, yet flexible support for the trunk of the body as well as protection for the delicate spinal cord housed within it.

The spine consists of 33 vertebrae stacked vertically upon each other. The vertebrae are connected by facet joints at the back of the spine. These joints allow movement between the bones of the spine. The vertebrae are stabilized by ligaments and, most importantly, are separated by an intervertebral disc between each vertebra, which functions as a shock absorber.

The vertebrae can be classified into five segments. These segments include 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, 5 lumbar vertebrae, 5 fused sacral vertebrae, and 4 fused coccygeal vertebrae. The spinal cord runs through a canal located at the back of the vertebrae, and extends from the brain stem to the lumbar region of the spine. Nerves branch out from the spinal cord, sending messages for movement and body functions to the rest of the body.

The anatomical shape of the adult spine also contains four basic curvatures. The thoracic and sacral regions are concave anteriorly, while the cervical and lumbar regions are concave posteriorly. This unique shape of the spine allows it to support the weight of the human body.

 

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