Causes & Symptoms
Cervical osteoarthritis is caused by normal changes from wear and tear of the bones and cartilage of the cervical spine. These changes occur with age, and can include:
Bone spurs. As a result of disc and cartilage degeneration, the spine will produce spurs of abnormal bone growth, as an attempt to strengthen the spine. These growths can result in the narrowing of the interior of the spinal column and the openings where spinal nerves exit.
Dehydrated discs. Discs serve as cushions to separate the vertebrae of the spine. With age, the discs of the cervical spine gradually lose fluid, causing them to shrink and allowing more bone-on-bone contact between the vertebrae.
Stiff ligaments. Ligaments are bands of fibrous connective tissue that connect two bones together. As the disc’s age, spinal ligaments can stiffen, making the neck less flexible.
Previous injury or trauma to the neck, occupations requiring repetitive neck movement and overhead work, and activities, such as gymnastics and other sports, that may put more stress on the neck can lead to an increased risk of developing cervical arthritis.
Symptoms generally include pain and stiffness in the neck. The pain can range from mild to severe and can increase by activities in which the neck is held in the same position for an extended period. Other symptoms may include:
Grinding noise or popping sensation when the neck is turned.
Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms, hands, and fingers.
Loss of balance and difficulty walking.