Neck osteoarthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis, is chronic degeneration of the vertebrae in the cervical region of the spine, as well as the discs between the vertebrae. Neck osteoarthritis typically affects men and women over 40 and progressively worsens with age. The prevalence of neck osteoarthritis is the same for men and women, but men tend to develop the condition younger than women.
The changes caused by degeneration of the cervical spine region can compress one or more nerve roots. The compression of nerves can not only cause pain in the neck, but also pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the arm.
While a past neck injury can lead to neck osteoarthritis years later, aging is the major risk factor or cause of neck osteoarthritis. Seventy percent of women and 85% of men have x-ray evidence of neck osteoarthritis by age 60.
The diagnosis of neck osteoarthritis is based on the patient’s:
Physical examination (observe for pain, range of motion in neck, reflexes, nerve, and muscle function in arms and legs
Imaging studies and other diagnostic tests (may include neck x-ray, CT scan, MRI, myelogram, EMG)