What Is Cervical Arthritis?

Cervical spondylosis, more commonly known as cervical osteoarthritis, is a degenerative disease affecting the bones, discs, and joints of the neck. It is a common condition that affects over 85 percent of people older than 60.

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.

Treatments

How is this condition treated with PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)?

Platelet-rich plasma is human blood that is spun down and separated to produce a high concentration of platelets. The body naturally initiates injury repair by delivering platelets to the damaged area. Studies have shown that growth factors released by platelets reparative cells can improve tissue repair and stimulate soft tissue repair. In cases of cervical arthritis, injections of PRP have been found to stimulate cartilage healing and reduce pain, making it an effective long-term treatment option.

PRP can prevent further degeneration from occurring in mild cases. In more severe cases, treatment can reduce pain and improve function. The overall injection process takes 1 hour and can be done at an office visit.

How is this condition treated with stem cell therapy (Regenerative Therapies)?

Stem cells are cells that have the ability to differentiate into specialized cells required to repair tissues in the body. Clinical studies have found stem cell therapy to be an effective treatment of cervical arthritis. Stem cells are natural anti-inflammatories which can relieve pain and swelling. Stem cell therapy uses stem cells taken from the individual’s own body to create new cartilage cells in areas affected by deterioration. The stem cells are administered by injection directly into the damaged site, facilitating the healing process.