With the term cervical osteoarthritis, we refer to the wear and tear on the neck structures that we see in imaging tests such as, for example, x-rays. It may also be called spondylosis or spondyloarthrosis. These names are used because degenerative lesions are seen in both bone and disc and soft tissues.From the age of 30 it is very common to begin to see degenerative changes in the x-rays of the neck. Osteoarthritis is a progressive process of aging that also affects the joints of the neck. That the neck is worn does not mean that it has to hurt or give any problem. There is no direct relationship between the degree of wear and the severity of the pain. There are many people with a lot of cervical osteoarthritis with absolutely no symptoms. On the other hand, there are patients with little wear that suffer episodes of pain. This is because osteoarthritis is one more factor in the equation; it is not the only cause of neck pain.
How is cervical osteoarthritis seen on X-rays?
Cervical osteoarthritis The X-ray shows changes in the vertebrae, especially in the area of the joints. The discs deteriorate and we see how the space between the vertebral bodies decreases. Osteophytes are formed in the area of the vertebral body, which are bone formations that we see in the anterior zone, also known as “parrot peaks” by the shape they have (see photo). In addition, changes occur in the articular facets of the posterior vertebrae.
“My neck hurts and I have been told that I have cervical osteoarthritis”
Joint wear does not have to hurt. It is true that a joint with osteoarthritis is easier to undergo a process of inflammation. And that is what usually happens. When there is a lot of wear and tear there are certain periods during the year that we have neck pain. The intensity and duration of pain depends on the cause that has precipitated it to begin to hurt. The most common is to start with day-to-day efforts such as spending many hours at the computer, catching our nephew in the arms more than usual or looking up repeatedly as when painting a wall, for example.
The most common symptoms are local joint pains that radiate to the muscles producing pain and contractures. This tension that accumulates in the muscles is frequent that can produce us headache or even tingling in the arms. Our doctor can tell us if these tingles are important or not.
One of the most uncomfortable symptoms is the dizziness and dizziness we may experience at times. When the cause of the dizziness is in the neck there are two reasons that can produce it. On the one hand, cervical pain and accumulated muscle tension can cause a sensation of instability, as if the ground were moving. On the other hand, there is an artery that crosses the area of the vertebrae (vertebral artery) that can be affected by osteoarthritis and cause dizziness. This happens by the indirect affectation on the structures of the ear that help us in the balance.
A consequence of the osteoarthritis that is common, although the person is not noticed many times, is the progressive diminution of the mobility of the neck. Osteoarthritis is disrupting the joints and is gradually limited the mobility they have. This implies that when we explore a patient and ask him to turn the neck to one side and another we appreciate a loss of normal degrees of mobility. The patient does not realize sometimes because it occurs so slowly over the years that we become accustomed to the mobility we have and perceive it as normal.
Can cervical osteoarthritis be dangerous?
The answer is not in the vast majority of people. Sometimes the wear of the discs and the growth of bone excrescences can diminish the space through which the nerve roots emerge. If a small herniated disc with inflammation of the area is added to this decrease in space, the nerve can be compromised. The nerves coming out of the neck are responsible for collecting the sensitivity of the arms and sending the signal to the muscles so that they can move. An injury to these nerves can limit the ability of certain muscles and notice that we lose strength. If it happens we should consult our doctor but we should not be scared. Most of the time the tingling and feeling of loss of strength are due to muscle contractures and pain respectively.
Fortunately, it is rare to find a patient with serious injuries due to osteoarthritis. These isolated cases are due to involvement of the spinal cord and sometimes there are situations like a fall or similar that precipitates it. Although these cases exist, fear or concern about this is not justified.
Here you can get more information in this blog great depression facts.