Spondylosis is a term referring to degenerative osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a group of mechanical abnormalities involving degradation of joints, including articular cartilage and subchondral bone. Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, locking, and sometimes an effusion...

 of the joints between the centra of the spinal vertebrae and/or neural foraminae. If this condition occurs in the zygapophysial joints
Zygapophysial joint
A zygapophysial joint is a synovial joint between the superior articular process of one vertebra and the inferior articular process of the vertebra directly above it...

, it can be considered facet syndrome
Facet syndrome
Facet syndrome is when the zygapophysial joints cause back pain. 55% of facet syndrome cases occur in cervical vertebrae, and 31% in lumbar. Facet syndrome can progress to spinal osteoarthritis, which is known as spondylosis...

. If severe, it may cause pressure on nerve roots
A peripheral nerve, or simply nerve, is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of peripheral axons . A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses that are transmitted along each of the axons. Nerves are found only in the peripheral nervous system...

 with subsequent sensory
Sensory system
A sensory system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing sensory information. A sensory system consists of sensory receptors, neural pathways, and parts of the brain involved in sensory perception. Commonly recognized sensory systems are those for vision, hearing, somatic...

 and/or motor
Motor system
The motor system is the part of the central nervous system that is involved with movement. It consists of the pyramidal and extrapyramidal system....

 disturbances, such as pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, paresthesia
Paresthesia , spelled "paraesthesia" in British English, is a sensation of tingling, burning, pricking, or numbness of a person's skin with no apparent long-term physical effect. It is more generally known as the feeling of "pins and needles" or of a limb "falling asleep"...

, or muscle weakness
Muscle weakness
Muscle weakness or myasthenia is a lack of muscle strength. The causes are many and can be divided into conditions that have true or perceived muscle weakness...

 in the limbs.

When the space between two adjacent vertebrae narrows, compression of a nerve root emerging from the spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

 may result in radiculopathy
Radiculopathy is not a specific condition, but rather a description of a problem in which one or more nerves are affected and do not work properly . The emphasis is on the nerve root...

 (sensory and motor disturbances, such as severe pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, back, and/or leg, accompanied by muscle weakness). Less commonly, direct pressure on the spinal cord (typically in the cervical spine) may result in myelopathy
Myelopathy refers to pathology of the spinal cord. When due to trauma, it is known as spinal cord injury. When inflammatory, it is known as myelitis. Disease that is vascular in nature is known as vascular myelopathy....

, characterized by global weakness, gait dysfunction, loss of balance, and loss of bowel and/or bladder control. The patient may experience a phenomenon of shocks (paresthesia) in hands and legs because of nerve compression and lack of blood flow
In medicine, ischemia is a restriction in blood supply, generally due to factors in the blood vessels, with resultant damage or dysfunction of tissue. It may also be spelled ischaemia or ischæmia...

. If vertebrae of the neck
The neck is the part of the body, on many terrestrial or secondarily aquatic vertebrates, that distinguishes the head from the torso or trunk. The adjective signifying "of the neck" is cervical .-Boner anatomy: The cervical spine:The cervical portion of the human spine comprises seven boney...

 are involved it is labelled cervical
Cervical vertebrae
In vertebrates, cervical vertebrae are those vertebrae immediately inferior to the skull.Thoracic vertebrae in all mammalian species are defined as those vertebrae that also carry a pair of ribs, and lie caudal to the cervical vertebrae. Further caudally follow the lumbar vertebrae, which also...

 spondylosis. Lower back spondylosis is labeled lumbar
Lumbar vertebrae
The lumbar vertebrae are the largest segments of the movable part of the vertebral column, and are characterized by the absence of the foramen transversarium within the transverse process, and by the absence of facets on the sides of the body...



  • Repetitive strain injury
    Repetitive strain injury
    Repetitive strain injury is an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by...

     caused due to lifestyle without ergonomic care, e.g., while working in front of computers, driving, traveling etc. Simple reasons like "using a blunt knife for everyday chopping of vegetables" could cause RSI.
  • Others


Treatment is usually conservative in nature; the most commonly used treatments are chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy and other manual medicine practices. Patient education on lifestyle modifications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been shown to manage such conditions. Alternative therapies such as osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), massage, trigger-point therapy, chiropractic, osteopathic care, yoga and acupuncture may be utilized to control pain and maintain musculoskeletal function in some people. Surgery is occasionally performed.

Many of the treatments for cervical spondylosis have not been subjected to rigorous, controlled trials. Surgery is advocated for cervical radiculopathy in patients who have intractable pain, progressive symptoms, or weakness that fails to improve with conservative therapy. Surgical indications for cervical spondylosis with myelopathy (CSM) remain somewhat controversial, but "most clinicians recommend operative therapy over conservative therapy for moderate-to-severe myelopathy." (Baron, M.E.)

Physical therapy and chiropractic care may be effective for restoring range of motion, flexibility, and core strengthening. Decompressive therapies (i.e. manual mobilization, mechanical traction) may also help alleviate pain. However, physical therapy and chiropractic cannot "cure" the degeneration, and some people view that strong compliance with postural modification is necessary to realize maximum benefit from decompression, adjustments, and flexibility rehabilitation.

It is often argued, however, that the cause of spondylosis is simply old age, and that posture modification treatment is often practiced by those who have a financial interest (such as Worker's Compensation) in proving that it is caused by work conditions and poor physical habits. Understanding anatomy is the key to conservative management of spondylosis.


Many surgical procedures have been developed to alleviate the signs and symptoms associated with spondylosis. The vertebral column
Vertebral column
In human anatomy, the vertebral column is a column usually consisting of 24 articulating vertebrae, and 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. It is situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso, separated by intervertebral discs...

 can be approached by the surgeon from the front, side, or rear. Osteophytes and sometimes portions of an intervertebral disc are commonly removed in an effort to relieve pressure on adjacent nerve roots and/or the spinal cord.


A major problem related to this disease is vertebrobasilar insufficiency. This is a result of the vertebral artery becoming occluded as it passes up in the transverse foramen. The spinal joints become stiff in cervical spondylosis. Thus the chondrocytes which maintain the disc become deprived of nutrition and die. The weakened disc bulges and grows out as a result of incoming osteophytes. A ‘drop attack’ in older people is a sign of vertebrobasilar insufficiency, which is the cause of 25% of the strokes and TIA’s
Transient ischemic attack
A transient ischemic attack is a transient episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by ischemia – either focal brain, spinal cord or retinal – without acute infarction...

 in the USA.

External links

  • Cure for Cervical spondylosis through yoga at the Cervical Spondylosis
  • Cervical spondylosis at the Mayo Clinic
    Mayo Clinic
    Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group specializing in treating difficult patients . Patients are referred to Mayo Clinic from across the U.S. and the world, and it is known for innovative and effective treatments. Mayo Clinic is known for being at the top of...

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