Cervical spondylosis is the specific term for osteoarthritis of the spine, which includes the spontaneous degeneration of either disk or facet joints. Alternative terms include degenerative disk disease and degenerative joint disease (DJD). Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 This spontaneous degeneration is commonly asymptomatic. It can lead to either arthritis-specific symptoms referable to the neck (i.e., loss of joint motion, pain on motion, joint incompetency) or neurologic complications of the joint degeneration, including pressure on the spinal cord (cervical spondylotic myelopathy) and/or cervical nerve roots (cervical spondylotic radiculopathy).
There is no simple, accepted etiologic classification, but symptoms cluster into clinical syndromes.
Axial neck pain, which includes reduced motion of the cervical spine, paraspinal muscle spasm, and referred pain, similar to other joints of the body
Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy (CSR), a specific syndrome of radiating arm pain following a single cervical nerve root distribution that arises from mechanical compression and/or chemical irritation of that specific nerve root, usually at its exit from the spinal canal
Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), a specific syndrome of neurologic deficit in the upper and lower extremities resulting from spinal cord pressure in the cervical spine, due to degenerative changes in disk and/or facet joints.
Diagram of subsets of cervical spondylosis, including various symptoms possibly arising within the larger field of asymptomatic (radiographic) spondylosis
Dennis A. Turner, MA, MD