Symptoms of Cervical Arthritis (Spondylosis)
Neck and shoulder pain are the usual symptoms of cervical arthritis, with an intermittently stiff neck a common first sign of degeneration. The stiffness becomes more frequent and severe with time and leads to pain in the neck, and restricted mobility. Cervicogenic headaches, shoulder, chest, and arm pain also occur in a large number of cases, with a dull ache, or a sharp stabbing pain frequently experienced. As the coaition progresses, the patient may suffer from muscle weakness in the upper body, and parasthaesia such as tingling in the arms and hands. As cervical arthritis can also affect the cartilage and soft tissues of the spine, it is common for the discs cushioning the cervical spine to degrade and become brittle. Abulging disc in the neck may then cause symptoms of pinched nerves and blood vessels, and lead to acute symptoms if the disc herniates.
Loss of fine motor skills in the hands may also occur, with many patients reporting clumsiness and lack of coordination that impacts on their ability to work and conduct everyday tasks. Strength in the hands may also be lost, making simple activities, such as opening a jar, near impossible. This is particularly likely if the condition is not isolated to the cervical spine, with a simultaneous arthritic development of the other joints in the body, such as in osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Problems with the lower limbs may also occur in cervical arthritis (spondylosis), as the nerves in this area are frequently involved with the innervation and sensation of muscles in the rest of the body. Leg weakness, lower back pain, and parasthaesia can occur in tandem with the pain and discomfort of the upper body. Cervical arthritis induced myelopathy also affects balance and stability in some patients, and incontinence can also become a feature of the disease. Due to the lack of innervation and muscle movement, wasting of the limbs may occur, making physical therapy a key component of the treatment of cervical arthritis.
This neck condition is degenerative and will generally worsen at a steady pace leading to increased debility, and often a reliance on a cane or walker to get around. Treatments to alleviate the pain and inflammation may prove beneficial for managing daily activities, and surgery is an option for some where the benefits outweigh the potential risks of the procedures available. If the usual over-the-counter analgesics cease effectiveness at relieving pain, or if acute numbness, and weakness of the arms or legs occurs, then medical advice should be sought immediately as prompt intervention may help prevent further trauma to the spinal region. Similarly, a sudden loss of the ability to control the bowel or bladder necessitates intervention by a physician to ascertain the cause of the regulatory problem.
Last Updated: 9/10/2010