This condition is a degeneration of the spine that can affect the spine at any level, resulting in pain and discomfort that can grow worse over time.
This condition most commonly results from normal wear and tear associated with aging.
The vertebrae may begin to shift out of proper alignment and rub against each other. Bony growths called bone spurs may form on the irritated vertebrae. The vertebral shifting and the excess bone growth can reduce the space through which the nerve roots travel, and the nerve roots or the spinal cord can become painfully compressed.
Nerve root injury in the cervical spine most commonly involves one of the three lowest levels of cervical vertebrae, which are called C5, C6 and C7. Symptoms may include pain, weakness, numbness and tingling, and may vary depending on the level of the injury. For example, an injury at the C5 level may cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and upper arm. An injury at the next vertebral level (the C6 vertebrae) may cause pain in the shoulder and the arm, and it may also cause weakness in the arm. And finally, an injury at the lowest level (the C7 vertebrae) may cause pain from the neck all the way down to the hand, along with weakness in the arm and hand.
Treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, rest, lumbar supports and spinal injections. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.