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Cervical Spondylosis


Cervical spondylosis is a disorder in which there is a degeneration of the cartilage and bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae), also known as cervical osteoarthritis.


What is Cervical Spondylosis?

  • Cervical spondylosis is a disorder in which there is a degeneration of the cartilage and bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae), also known as cervical osteoarthritis

What are the common causes?

  • Cervical spondylosis is caused by chronic degeneration of the cervical spine, including the intervertebral discs that cushion the neck vertebral joints of the cervical spine
  • The major risk factor is aging. Most men & women by the age of 60, would show signs of cervical spondylosis on the x-ray
  • Other risk factors that increase your risk of cervical spondylosis are:
    • Previous neck injury
    • Severe arthritis
    • Previous spine surgery
    • Repetitive neck strain injury
  • Aging and overuse can lead to:
    • Wearing out of the cartilage and vertebra
    • Further degeneration of the discs that cushion between the vertebrae
    • Deterioration of joints between the bones of the cervical spine
    • Narrowing of spinal canals and foramina which can lead to increased pressure on nerves that innervate the upper limbs

What are the signs & symptoms?

  • Symptoms usually develop slowly over time, however may also develop suddenly. Some possible symptoms are:
    • Neck pain and stiffness that worsen with upright activities
    • Numbness and weakness of the arms, hands and fingers, or (rarely) legs
    • Grinding or 'popping' in the neck when you move
    • Muscle spasms in the neck
    • Headaches that are one-sided or arises from the back of head
  • Less common symptoms may include:
    • Loss of balance
    • Loss of control over bowel or bladder functions (if spinal cord is compressed)


  • Symptoms may last for several months and become chronic, if lasting for more than 3 months. Most patients will have some long-term signs & symptoms
  • If symptoms are mild, the doctor may recommend a variety of non-surgical conservative management
  • With rest, medication and physiotherapy, most of your symptoms may be reduced
  • You may then follow-up with your doctor again to check if symptoms have gotten better, worse or stayed the same

What types of treatment are available?


  • To reduce pain especially in the initial stages using different types of modalities such as heat, ultrasound, manual therapy and interferential current
  • To improve range of movement and muscle strength
  • To improve postural control and ergonomics
  • Most importantly, customised strategies and exercises to help you manage your condition independently

What can I do to help myself?

  • Very often, conditions like this will reoccur. To minimize recurrence or the severity of your recurrence, reduce your risk factors by incorporating lifestyle changes and exercises into your daily living
  • Some suggestions are:
    • Use of proper equipment & techniques when playing sports. Avoid high-impact activities if pain is severe
    • Use a supportive pillow when sleeping
    • Change your posture frequently & modify your work station to achieve better ergonomics
    • Minimize repetitive movements of looking upwards
    • Avoid sustaining a poor posture over a prolonged period of time
    • Manage your stress & workload
    • Use a heat pack to provide temporary pain and tension relief that may have developed with increased stress, workload or poor posture

- Last updated 17 Jun 2011,3:52 pm

The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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