Medical Matters: Why Cervical Spondylosis can be a pain in the neck

written by Scally McDaid Roarty February 3, 2020

This week Dr Ciarán Roarty of Scally McDaid Roarty Medical Practice discusses a common cause of neck pain.

Your doctor may have told you that the cause of your neck symptoms is a condition called Cervical Spondylosis.

This is a common cause of neck pain and is often described as “wear and tear” of the bones ( vertebrae) and discs of the neck.

We all start to develop degeneration of the vertebrae and discs from about the age of 30 on. It is a normal ageing process and often will not cause any symptoms.

However, in some people, nearby muscles, ligaments or even nerves may become irritated by these degenerative changes and cause pain.

What are the symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis Doctor?

If symptoms do occur they may be mild or quite severe. You may experience pain which may spread to the shoulders and base of the skull. Movement may exacerbate this pain. It may even spread to the arms or hands if a nerve is irritated.

The pain tends to come and go, perhaps after spraining your neck muscles, but often for no apparent reason. You may experience headaches which seem to originate where the neck muscles join the skull but can move forward to the front of the head. Neck stiffness is common after a nights sleep. Pins and needles sensations in your arm or hand may be due to irritation of a nerve. Rarely you may experience difficulty with fine movements of the hand, or walking or even bladder function, due to pressure of a worn vertebra on the spinal cord.

Can it be treated?

If you have complications such as muscle function disturbance or pins and needles or numbness of the hands and arms with/without neck pain, tell your doctor as further tests may be required.

If these symptoms are not present your doctor may prescribe pain relief such as paracetamol – at the proper dose rate- and anti-inflamatory pain killers such as ibuprofen or naproxen, though certain conditions such as stomach ulcers, kidney trouble or asthma may mean you cannot take this type of medication.

Other pain relief such as codeine combined with paracetamol may be prescribed for short periods of time. Certain low dose antidepressant medications are also sometimes used if the neck pain has become chronic as it has been shown, at lower doses, to help with this type of pain.

A physiotherapist’s help may be sought and their treatments along with exercises that you can do at home can help. You may be given advice regarding your posture and the use of proper pillows. If symptoms don’t settle it is important to consult with your doctor again as further treatment may be required.

The above information is intended as advice only and should you have any concerns please contact your own Doctor.

Dr Ciarán Roarty MB, BCh BAO MICGP DRCOG Grad. Cert. Obst. Ultrasound is a full-time GP at Scally McDaid Roarty Medical Practice , Scally Place, Letterkenny, Tel 0749164111 or go online to

Doctors Dara Scally, Jimmy McDaid, and Ciaran Roarty at their practice.




You may also like