Diagnosis

A physical assessment will be performed by the doctor to check your reflexes, your neck’s motion range and check how you walk to find out if there are any signs of spinal cord and nerve compression.

Imaging tests

  • X-ray. A neck X-ray can detect bone spurs and other factors causing pain and stiffness in the neck (e.g., fracture, infection, or tumors)
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan. Shows a more detailed image of the bones.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Shows any nerve compression.
  • Myelography. Gives a clearer X-ray and CT scan image by injecting a dye in the spinal canal.

Nerve function tests

The following are the types of nerve function tests to check for any damage to the nerves.

  • Electromyography.Shows muscle contraction and relaxation which receives command based on the electrical conduction in your nerves.
  • Nerve conduction study. A mild electrical shock is delivered through electrodes attached on the skin where the nerves are to assess the nerve’s electrical conduction.

Treatment

Cervical spondylosis is treated to alleviate the pain, stop further spinal cord and nerve damage, and help you get back to your normal tasks. The treatment is based on how serious are the signs and symptoms.

Medications

The following medications are prescribed if over-the-counter drugs cannot manage the symptoms.

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Prescriptionstrength medications may be more helpful for the pain and inflammation other than using over-the-counter drugs.
  • Corticosteroids. Prednisone as an oral medicine may help alleviate the pain but if it’s still not enough, steroid injection is another option.
  • Muscle relaxants. Cyclobenzaprine is a drug specifically prescribed to relieve neck muscle spasm.
  • Anti-seizure medications. Gabapentin and pregabalin are anti-seizure medications but they also dull the nerves to prevent pain sensation.
  • Antidepressants. Neck pain can also be relieved with the help of some antidepressant medications.

Physical Therapy

You will be taught with some neck and shoulder muscle stretching and strengthening exercises by the physical therapist. Traction also helps create space and relieve compression on the nerves of the spine.

Surgery

You may have to undergo surgery if you manifest signs of severe arms or legs weakness. The goal of the surgery is to provide space for the nerve roots and spinal cord. The procedure will involve removing parts of the vertebra, herniated disk or bone spurs; and utilize a bone graft or hardware to combine parts of the neck.