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Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the neck is very common. I suspect that if we live long enough then everyone will have some evidence of the condition, though it may not cause any symptoms. The process of degeneration in the body is frequently characterised by extra tissue being formed at the site of degeneration. A good example of this is the knobbly finger joints when the hand is affected by osteoarthritis.

The neck consists of a series of funny shaped bones all interlocked one on top of each other. Through the gaps in these bones pass the nerve roots from the spinal cord which form the nerves of the arm. If arthritis develops then there may be a build up of excess tissue and this can press onto the nerve roots and can cause referred symptoms in the forearm and hand. Typically these symptoms consist of numbness and tingling making the diagnosis between spondylosis and carpal tunnel syndrome quite difficult.

The mainstay of treatment for cervical spondylosis is physiotherapy and it is rare for surgery to be necessary. The condition frequently has a fluctuating cyclical nature with good days/bad days or good weeks/bad weeks etc.

Useful sources of information are as follows:

    Arthritis Research Campaign booklet 'Pain in the neck'.
    American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons