Cervical osteophytes are also known as neck bone spurs and usually occur around the muscle, ligament and tendon attachment areas of the vertebrae. When ligament and tendon attachments (where they join to bone) become injured or inflamed this leads to abnormal bone growth in that area and bone spurs develop. It is usually just simple wear and tear during the ageing process that causes bone spurs to develop, and can be a normal part of ageing. This bone spur formation can be accelerated by cervical (neck) osteoarthritis, trauma to the neck or labor-intensive lifestyles. The condition and process of cervical osteophyte formation is called cervical spondylosis.
Cervical (neck) osteophytes are not painful until they grow large enough to place pressure on a pain sensitive structure in the neck such as a nerve, intervertebral disc or the spinal cord. When this compression occurs neck symptoms may include neck stiffness, headaches, referred pain into the shoulders, arms and fingers or muscle weakness. In rare cases they can get so big they cause dysphagia or difficulty swallowing.
The treatment for cervical osteophytes will depend on several factors such as the location and severity. Surgery may be recommended in some situations. Chiropractic and physiotherapy type treatments may also be recommended. Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments will be centred around restoring any impairments that may exist. This can include treatments to improve mobility, strength and functional abilities such as improving the ability to lift things above head etc. Consult your chiropractor or physiotherapy for more information or contact us at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C)