There are many causes of cervical pain of which the most common is cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis basically means that there is general wear and tear of the joint in the neck. With time these changes contribute to osteoarthritis of the neck and affect posture.
Cervical spondylosis and osteoarthritis are most common in people older than age 55, and both conditions progress with age. However, many sports related injuries, car-accident whiplash injuries and repetitive stress movements that occur on the job may also accelerate these degeneration processes.
Many people with cervical spondylosis and osteoarthritis have signs on X-rays but do not always have symptoms. The typical signs of these two cervical spine disorders include pain, stiffness and muscle spasms. When symptoms do occur, non-surgical treatments often are effective.
Most disorders of the cervical spine usually present with neck pain and stiffness. However, if a nerve is pinched or compressed, other symptoms may include:
Constant aching neck
Pain which radiates to the arms, back of the head or shoulders
Numbness, tingling or pain sensations down the arms and legs
Difficulty walking and lack of coordination
Bladder and or bowel incontinence
Upper back aches
Causes of Cervical Pain & Complications
As one ages, the structures in the cervical spine like the bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments get stiff and develop small tears. Over time, bone spurs may grow and the cartilage in between the joints will wear out.
Cervical spine problems are generally from the daily wear and tear of the joint, ligaments and tendons. By the age of 40, most people have some signs of joint degeneration on x-ray but symptoms do not start for another decade. With age, most people will have loss of elasticity in the joint, bulging or herniations of the discs, stiffening of the ligaments, muscle spasm and formation of bone spurs. Aging and daily wear and tear are the chief risk factors for development of cervical spine spondylosis.
When arthritic changes of cervical spine progress, it can lead to compression of the nerves. Sometimes bone spurs may occur which compress the nerves. Once nerve impingement occurs, the condition is usually progressive if no treatment is undertaken.