COVID-19 Resources: Keeping you safe | Vaccine Information | Visitor Policy and Hours
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Cervical Spondylosis
Spondylosis is age-related change of the bones (vertebrae) and discs of the spine. These changes are often called degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis.
These changes don't always cause symptoms. But they are a common cause of spine problems that can range from mild to severe.
As your body ages, the discs between the bones of the spine become stiffer and can break down. The bones also wear down and can grow bone spurs.
When this condition is in the neck, it's called cervical spondylosis.
There are often no symptoms. When there are symptoms, neck pain and stiffness are the main ones. They are usually worse in the morning and get better throughout the day. You may also have a headache.
If bony growths are pushing against a nerve root or the spinal cord, you may have numbness, tingling, weakness, or an aching, shooting pain in your arm or leg.
Cervical spondylosis can usually be diagnosed based on your history of symptoms, a physical exam, and imaging tests. These are tests that produce various kinds of pictures of your body. Such tests include:
Pain and stiffness are first treated with ice or heat and with over-the-counter medicines. Physical therapy and daily exercises can be helpful.
If these treatments aren't helping you enough, you may need other treatments. This might be more likely to happen if you have spine problems such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. In some cases, a shot of medicine in the joint area may offer short-term relief. For a severe problem, surgery may be an option.
Other Works Consulted
Barbano RL (2016). Mechanical and other lesions of the spine, nerve roots, and spinal cord. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman-Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2370–2382. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of:
November 16, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: November 16, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.