Cervical spondylitis is a common regressive condition of the cervical (neck) spine that most probably is caused by factors associated with age changes (wear and tear) in the intervertebral disc and vertebrae of the neck. Research has shown that CSM (cervical spondylotic myelopathy) is the most common cause of non-traumatic weakness in limbs and a determined rigidity and troublesome pain in the neck.
Spondylo' is a Greek word that means vertebra. Spondylitis means changes in the vertebral joint illustrated by increasing deterioration of the intervertebral disc with successive changes in the bones and soft tissues.
Most often in people higher than the age of 40, the intervertebral discs get gradually dehydrated and they become more compressible and less elastic. Mineral deposition starts occurring in the intervertebral disc resulting in secondary changes. Though majority of individuals over 40 years of age demonstrate major radiological confirmation of the above changes, only a small percentage develop symptoms of the same. Another notable point is that sometimes the degenerative changes in the cervical spine can be visible on the X-ray as early as in 30’s however it does not call for any treatment if the patient is not symptomatic.
The above changes result in firmness of the nerves leading to radiculopathy (pain, numbness, weakness and loss of reflex due to compression and irritation of spinal nerve) or compression of the spinal cord resulting in cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) (commonly caused by spinal stenosis resulting in loss of movements and sensation). Both the neural and spinal cord firmness will result in radiculomyelopathy.
Cervical spondylitis results due to unusual wear of the cartilage and bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) with degeneration and mineral deposit in the cushions between the vertebrae (cervical disks). This is more common after the age of 40.
Clinically, numerous groups of symptoms, both overlapping and distinct, are seen: neck and shoulder pain, headache and sub-occipital pain, radicular symptoms, and cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).
The most common symptom is intermittent persistent neck and shoulder pain. The pain can be chronic or episodic, associated with long periods of remission.
The patient shows limited ability to bend the head to sides/front/back and to rotate the head.
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