Cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy

Cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy are two medical terms that are often linked together in medical literature. That’s because spondylosis frequently causes radiculopathy in patients. To understand the relationship between cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy, we must first examine what the conditions are and how they affect the people afflicted with them through the following article.

What is cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is described as a degenerative condition that affects the vertebrae and soft tissues in the cervical portion of the spine (the neck) as we age. When people get older, they start to lose moisture and elasticity in the soft tissues of the back consisting of tendons, ligaments and the gel-filled cartilage pads (discs) that act as cushions between vertebrae. As these discs dry out, they become more fragile, causing cracks and fissures to form. If the discs become damaged enough, conditions like disc herniation and degenerative disc disease can develop.

Spondylosis also usually involves cartilage wearing away around the spinal joints. Early in life, these joints are wrapped in protective membranes of cartilage to keep the bones of the joint from grinding against each other. Once that protective layer is worn, these bones can easily sustain damage. As the bones try to repair themselves, they can develop osteophytes, also known as bone spurs, which are abnormal protrusions from the bone.

Like spondylosis, radiculopathy is a catchall term for a general condition. Radiculopathy is the medical term for pain and other symptoms resulting from a compressed nerve root. For example, sciatica is a well-known form of radiculopathy that affects the lower back and the legs, and it is caused by the compression of nerve roots connected to the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine (lower back).

How does cervical spondylosis cause radiculopathy?

As the discs and bones in the cervical spine degenerate, they can also cause compression to nerve roots. This can be due to the fluid from a prolapsed disc putting pressure on a nerve, or from a condition called spinal stenosis, in which the spinal column actually narrows. Bone spurs also cause pressure on nerves as bones begin to intrude in places where they were not meant to be.

People with radiculopathy from cervical spondylosis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Stiffness and pain in their necks
  • Tingling or numbness in their shoulders or arms
  • Pain in their shoulders, arms and chests

These symptoms may get better with exercise and usually respond to prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain medications.

Treatment options for cervical spondylosis

If cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy are limiting your quality of life and conservative treatments such as pain medications, physical therapy and chiropractic care do not provide you with sufficient relief, contact Laser Spine Institute.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Our board-certified surgeons+ use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle sparing techniques in order to relieve symptoms while resulting in less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open neck surgery.^

Reach out to Laser Spine Institute today and ask for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our advanced procedures. Our minimally invasive outpatient procedures may be able to help you find meaningful relief from chronic neck pain.