Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis)

What is Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis)?

Cervical spondylosis, also known as neck or cervical osteoarthritis in Singapore, is the most common neck disorder in adults. Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition affecting the cervical spine, which is the upper portion of the spine in your neck.

The spine comprises 24 vertebrae, seven of which make up the cervical spine (neck). Between each vertebrae are disks that act as shock absorbers and lubricants, allowing our spine to be flexible and strong. However, as we age, the spinal discs and joints in our neck wear down and become less flexible, leading to cervical spondylosis. Dehydration of the spinal disks can also cause the spinal disks to shrink and lose volume, thus leading to osteoarthritis of the neck.

cervical spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition that affects your cervical spine.

What causes Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis)?

Cervical spondylosis is primarily caused by the natural ageing process and wear and tear on the cervical spine. As you age, the spinal discs between the vertebrae and the facet joints in the neck can degenerate and gradually change. These changes include the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes) and the loss of cartilage, leading to reduced flexibility and increased friction within the neck joints.

Other factors that can contribute to cervical spondylosis include:

  • Herniated disks: ageing can cause the disk between each vertebrae to crack or tear, thus resulting in a herniated disk. This causes the affected disk to protrude and press on nerves and other neighbouring structures, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Injury: injury to the neck can cause disks to slip out of place or become herniated, thus speeding up the ageing process of the cervical spine and leading to cervical spondylosis.
  • Stiff ligaments: ageing can also cause ligaments to become stiff and thus contribute to the development of cervical spondylosis.
  • Repetitive movement: overuse or repetitive movements of the neck can put excessive pressure on the spine, speeding up its wear and tear, eventually leading to neck osteoarthritis.

What are the symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis)?

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis include:

  • Neck pain, especially at the back or sides
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion in your neck
  • Headaches, especially in the back of your head
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness in your arms or hands
  • In severe cases, difficulty balancing or walking

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms stated above, make an appointment (link to contact us) with Chou Neurosurgery (link to about us) today to prevent your symptoms from worsening.

Is Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis) painful?

Yes, cervical spondylosis can be painful. As this condition involves the degeneration of the cervical spine, it can lead to the formation of bone spurs and the narrowing of the spinal canal. These changes can cause compression and irritation of the nerves, leading to neck pain and discomfort.

The severity of the pain varies from mild to severe and may worsen over time if left untreated. In addition to neck pain, cervical spondylosis may also cause headaches, tingling and numbness or weakness in your arms and hands due to nerve compression.

neck pain
Neck pain and stiffness is characteristic of cervical spondylosis.

Who is at risk of Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis) in Singapore?

In Singapore, the risk of developing cervical spondylosis increases with the following factors:

  • Age: as you age, the wear and tear on the cervical spine can lead to degenerative changes, making you more susceptible to this condition.
  • History of neck injuries: neck injuries can accelerate the ageing of the cervical vertebrae, making you more vulnerable to cervical spondylosis.
  • Poor posture: poor posture can contribute to cervical spondylosis by causing excessive loading on the cervical spine. This is especially true for poor posture during prolonged periods of sitting.
  • Genetics: familial cervical spondylosis has been seen in various individuals. Thus leading scientists to believe that genetics plays a part in cervical spondylosis.
  • Smoking: smoking impairs blood supply throughout the body. This can cause inflammation and poor healing of injuries, accelerating the development of cervical spondylosis.
  • Repetitive movements: repetitive neck movements in activities or jobs with heavy lifting or overhead work can strain the neck excessively and increase your risk of developing cervical spondylosis.
 poor sitting posture
Poor posture, especially when sitting for prolonged periods, can eventually lead to cervical spondylosis.

How is Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis) diagnosed?

If you suspect you have or may have developed cervical spondylosis, you should seek medical evaluation for a proper diagnosis. The following procedures or tests may be conducted:

  • Medical history: share your symptoms, medical history and any previous neck injuries or conditions that may have contributed to the development of cervical spondylosis.
  • Physical examination: a physical exam will be conducted to assess your neck’s range of motion, strength, and any signs of nerve compression.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays (link to service page), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (link to service page), or computed tomography scans (CT scans) (link to service page) may be ordered to visualise the cervical spine and identify any degenerative changes, bone spurs, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
  • Neurological evaluation: this assessment helps determine if nerve compression is present and its impact on neurological function.

Based on the findings, your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of cervical spondylosis and create an appropriate management plan. Early diagnosis is essential to initiate timely treatment and prevent further progression of the condition.

What are the treatment options for Cervical Spondylosis (Neck Osteoarthritis) in Singapore?

In Singapore, treatment options for cervical spondylosis include:

  • Pain management: over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications can help manage neck pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: specific exercises and stretches can improve neck strength, flexibility, and posture, and reduce symptoms.
  • Heat or cold therapy: apply heat or cold packs to the affected area to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Lifestyle modifications: avoid activities that worsen symptoms and maintain good posture to help prevent further strain on your neck.
  • Cervical/soft collar: a cervical collar may provide temporary support and allow your neck to rest and recover.
  • Injections: corticosteroids or epidural injections can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Surgery: surgery is usually only considered if conservative treatments have proven ineffective or if severe nerve compression is causing neurological deficits.
 injection therapy neck
Injection therapy can be used in the treatment of cervical spondylosis.

Your doctor will recommend the most suitable treatment plan based on your condition and symptoms. Get an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your neck pain, book an appointment with us today.

Frequently asked questions  

Can cervical spondylosis be cured?

Cervical spondylosis cannot be cured. However, you can effectively control symptoms and improve your quality of life with proper treatment and management.

What can I do to prevent cervical spondylosis from worsening?

To prevent cervical spondylosis from worsening, you can adopt good posture, avoid excessive strain on the neck, perform neck exercises, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and seek prompt medical attention for symptoms.

Is cervical spondylosis a type of arthritis?

Yes, cervical spondylosis is a type of arthritis. It is a degenerative condition that affects the cervical spine, leading to neck osteoarthritis as you age.

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved