Dr. Kevin Yip

Dr Kevin Yip
Orthopaedic Surgeon
MBBS(UK), FRCS(EDIN), FAM(SING), FHKCOS(ORTHO)

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Cervical Spondylosis

Pain in the neck is a common symptom and is a natural consequence of aging in people over 50. Like the rest of our body, bones in the neck or cervical spine progressively age and degenerate as we grow older. Over a few years, arthritis of the neck or cervical spondylosis results from bone spurs and problems with ligaments and disks. The spinal canal is narrow with compression of the spinal cord and nerves to the arms. Injuries such as whiplash injury or fall on the face can also cause spinal cord compression. The pain that results may range from mild discomfort to severe, crippling dysfunction with numbness; pins and needles sensation and tingling down one or both upper limbs.

Cervical spondylosis can lead to chronic pain and stiffness in the neck and pain radiating to the upper extremities. Neck pain and stiffness is worse with upright activity. Other symptoms include numbness and weakness in the arms, hands and fingers, trouble walking due to weakness in the legs; grinding or popping sounds in the neck when neck is moving and muscle spasms or headaches originate in the neck. The condition can make you feel irritable and fatigued, disturb the sleep and impair the ability to work.

It is important to tell the doctor your complete medical history. This can help to rule out other conditions that cause symptoms similar to cervical spondylosis. The important medical history includes any illnesses or chronic conditions; exact location and nature of neck pain; onset and duration of the problem; injury to the neck or previously treatment.

There are tender spots along the back of the neck. The ability to move the neck in various directions is restricted. The reflexes and the function of nerves and muscles in the arms and legs are impaired. In severe cases; walking function is affected.

X-rays and MRI of the neck show bone spurs and abnormalities and reveal the extent of compression to the cervical spine.

The symptoms may last for several months or become chronic. If symptoms are mild, it can be treated by a variety of non-surgical treatments such as rest, medications and physical therapy.

Rest: You may need to wear a soft cervical collar or neck brace to limit neck motions and relieve nerve irritation.

Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or other non-narcotic pain relievers are to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

Physical therapy: A cervical traction device, hot and cold therapy or active exercise program; gentle massage and improving posture can relieve symptoms. Exercises may include neck strengthening, neck and shoulder stretching and aerobic exercises.

Surgery: Surgery may be necessary if the pain is severe and it does not improve with other treatments or progressive neurological symptoms develop. Surgery may remove bone spurs or disk material to decompression the nerves to provide lasting relief.

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