As individuals age, the discs in the neck region of the spine progressively wear down, dehydrate, shrink and become stiff, causing spondylosis, states Mayo Clinic. Cervical spondylosis is believed to be hereditary, and evidence of the condition is seen in over 90 percent of individuals age 65 and older.
Osteoarthritis is another term for cervical spondylosis, explains WebMD. As the vertebral discs lose flexibility, they provide less protection for the spinal cord and the nerves. This progressive deterioration can cause abnormal growths, such as spurs or osteophytes, to form on the neck bones. This often leads to a narrowing of the spinal column and results in the development of cervical spinal stenosis, a condition that places pressure on the spinal cord.
Individuals who engage in frequent activities or professions that expose the neck to injury and repeated stress are often at greater risk for spondylosis, notes WebMD. Common symptoms of spondylosis include stiffness and pain in the neck, shoulder or arms, headache, and difficulty fully rotating the head or neck, often accompanied by a grinding sound or rubbing sensation. Cervical spondylosis is not progressive, and rest often relieves symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chiropractic treatments and immobilizing the neck with a cervical collar are often effective in relieving discomfort.