Cervical Spine Osteoarthritis Facts Cervical spine osteoarthritis is a chronic, degenerative process involving the first seven (C1-C7) vertebrae of our spine. It can have many causes and may involve multiple areas of our vertebrae including the intervertebral discs/ligaments, vertebral bodies, hyaline cartilage, joint capsule and facet joints.
Arthritis begins with the formation of osteophytes or bone spurs that form on vertebral bodies in response to joint wear and tear. The loss of space between the vertebral bodies due to disc degeneration, called spondylosis, can accelerate this osteophyte formation process and eventually lead to decreased opening for our spinal nerves, called stenosis. The narrowing of the nerve canals can then cause numbness/tingling or burning to occur in our extremities, called radiculopathy.
Signs & Symptoms
It is important to understand how to avoid accelerating degeneration of your cervical spine and what to do if you are already experiencing symptoms of cervical spine osteoarthritis. Typical osteoarthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, possible instability and/or radiating pain. Risk factors for developing cervical spine osteoarthritis include age, genetics, lifestyle, posture, and trauma. Cervical spine osteoarthritis is diagnosed through diagnostic imaging including X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. With cervical spine osteoarthritis, you may experience an audible grinding or cracking noise as you move your head around, which is normal, however if this is associated with a great reduction in range of motion, sharp pain or shifting sensations then you need to be evaluated by your doctor or physical therapist.
Unfortunately, you can’t stop age-related joint degeneration from occurring, however it is possible to slow down its rate of development with proper guidance. If your symptoms are mild or moderate, and you are not having progressive nerve problems, you may benefit from conservative care such as physical therapy. Innovative Physical Therapy, “Solutions in Motion”