Cervical Spondylosis

What is cervical spondylosis?

The neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. In between these vertebrae there are shock absorbing discs. These discs have a tough, fibrous outer layer and a gel-like core. Cervical spondylosis is wear and tear of the vertebrae and discs in the neck. As we reach middle age our discs start becoming thinner and sometimes the edges of the vertebrae can become rough. The surrounding muscles, ligaments, and nerves can be irritated by these changes. This causes the symptoms of cervical spondylosis. Physiotherapy can successfully treat the symptoms of cervical spondylosis.

Causes of cervical spondylosis

Many people aged over 50 have cervical spondylosis as part of getting older.

You can get cervical spondylosis at any age if:

  • your job involves repetitive neck movements or a lot of overhead work – like painting and decorating

  • you have previously had a neck injury

  • you have a family history of the condition

What are the symptoms of cervical spondylosis?

People with cervical spondylosis often find that they have flare ups of their symptoms from time to time. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include:

  • Manipulation / Mobilisation

  • Exercise Programmes

  • Massage

  • Postural Realignment

  • Ergonomic Assessment


Your healthcare provider will give you a physical examination to see if you have this condition. You will probably discuss any neck injuries you've had and describe your symptoms. The healthcare provider will probably check your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs to see how well they're working. Other tests that may help make a diagnosis include:

  • Imaging tests. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans all provide images of the structures in your spine for the healthcare provider to see. These can show the bones, disks, muscles, and nerves in and around your neck, as well as your spinal cord.

  • Myelography. During this test, the healthcare provider injects a dye into the fluid around your spinal cord and then does a CT scan to see how the bone spurs and disks are interacting with the individual nerves.

  • Electromyography. This test shows how well your nerves are passing along signals from your spinal cord to your muscles.


Your healthcare provider can recommend a variety of treatments for pain relief from cervical spondylosis, depending on your needs. These may include:

  • Medicines. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, like ibuprofen or aspirin, opioid pain relievers, and muscle relaxants may help.

  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist can teach you stretching and strengthening exercises that may ease symptoms.

  • Ice or heat. Cool your neck with an ice pack or heat it with a warming pad as directed by your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

  • Collar. Wearing a soft collar around your neck for short periods may help your symptoms. It can cause your neck to weaken, however, if you wear it too long.

  • Injections. A healthcare provider can inject steroid medicine and pain-relieving drugs into the painful joint in your neck or into the space next to your spinal cord.

  • Surgery. In most cases, surgery is not needed. But surgeons can do different procedures to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves leaving your spine, if necessary. A surgeon can remove bone from around the opening that allows the nerve to exit the spine or bone from other parts of the vertebrae. He or she may also fuse bones in the spine after 1 of these procedures. If you have surgery, an anesthesia provider will put you to sleep beforehand so you don't feel it.


You may not be able to prevent cervical spondylosis, but these steps may reduce your risk:

  • Stay physically active.

  • Use good posture.

  • Prevent neck injuries by always using the right equipment and the right form when exercising or playing sports.

  • Avoid trauma to your neck