Cervical spondylosis is the medical term used to refer to general ‘wear and tear’ that occurs between the bones in the neck. The condition is also known as degenerative osteoarthritis. Cervical spondylosis can lead to episodes of stiffness and neck pain. Cervical spondylosis is common. In severe cases of cervical spondylosis the spinal cord or the nerves in the neck can become compressed.
As we get older, we all will develop wear and tear in our spines, and in particular in our necks. It is estimated that by the age of 70, nearly 100% of all people will have some degree of cervical spondylosis. The majority of people who suffer with cervical spondylosis will experience episodes of neck stiffness and pain. Neck pain arises when these worn joints and discs become inflamed. However, not everyone with cervical spondylosis develops symptoms.
Many people have neck pain which has got nothing to do with cervical spondylosis. The commonest cause of neck pain is muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. This can also extend into the head causing associated headaches. Poor posture and spending too long slumped over computers and hand held devices are big factors in patients developing muscle tension in their necks and shoulders.
There are 2 common patterns of neck pain:
Constant Neck Pain or Ache
This type of pain generally aggravated after exercise, and made worse by any prolonged activity such as reading or driving. This type of pain can be worse first thing in the morning, and in the evening after a long day.
Repetitive Episodes of Acute Neck Pain
This type of pain generally waxes and wanes. A seemingly trivial activity can lead to an acute episode of severe and incapacitating neck pain developing over the course of a few hours. These episodes can last a few days or a few weeks. Over time the pain may fail to fully resolve between episodes leaving the patient with a constant neck pain or ache, that continues to flare up on a regular basis.
With cervical spondylosis it is possible for the nerves or the spinal cord to become compressed. This is called cervical radiculopathy and cervical myelopathy.
If the nerves are being compressed then this can cause arm pain, numbness, pins and needles and weakness.
If the spinal cord is being compressed then this can also lead to numbness, pins and needles, and weakness in the hands. It can also result in a loss of fine hand function making you clumsy with a tendency to drop things, a change in the way that you walk, and a loss of bladder and bowel control.
Tips for Managing Neck Pain
Spinal specialists often use the term conservative management to describe any treatment option that does not involve surgery. Treatment for your neck may be as simple as reassuring you that you do not have a serious problem. However, anyone who has had a neck problem should consider some preventive measures to protect their neck from further problems in the future. Most patients will benefit from seeing a physiotherapist, an osteopath, or a chiropractor.
Neck pain is common. However, there are a number of simple things that you can do to optimize the condition of your neck, which when combined can form an effective strategy that allows you to become more comfortable and active.
Stretching: The aim of stretching is to maintain the range of movement of your neck. You should stretch the rest of your body as well as your neck. A physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor will help you to develop a program of stretches that you can then perform two or three times a day on your own. The aim is to allow your neck to have freer movement so that you do not injure your neck when engaging in trivial activities.
Regular exercise: With the help of your physical therapist you should develop an exercise regimen to strengthen the muscles associated with the neck, shoulder girdle and chest. These exercises need to be done regularly enough to strengthen your muscles. Swimming backstroke can be helpful as part of your regimen. The difficulty comes in maintaining your exercise regimen long term. As you start to get more comfortable you can begin to slowly return to more enjoyable forms of exercise.
Much of the strength and stability of the spine comes from the muscles of the stomach, back and upper thigh. These muscle groups form your own ‘internal muscular corset’ or ‘core’ that serves to support and protect your spine. Many people think that looking after you core is only important for lower back, but having a good core is equally as important for patients with neck problems, as having a strong core will help with your general spine control and posture. Your physical therapist will be able to teach you specific core strengthening exercises. As you become more comfortable with these exercises then you may benefit from joining a Pilates class.
It is also important that you do some general fitness exercise. High impact sports such as squash, long distance jogging, and rowing should be avoided if possible. Breaststroke swimming can also often aggravate neck problems. To begin with you will often feel sore the day following exercise. If you have a longstanding history of neck pain then it is important that you increase your activity level gradually so that you hopefully avoid getting into a cycle of activity followed by pain and inactivity.
Anti-inflammatory medication: Inflammation of structures in the neck is a big factor in neck pain. Anti-inflammatory medication can be very effective in helping to reduce this inflammation and improve your symptoms.
Many people do not want or feel the need to take regular medication, but prefer to use it only when their symptoms are bad. Even if not taking anything on a regular basis, it can often be helpful to take something half an hour before exercise (or other activity that you feel is likely to aggravate your neck) so as to keep to a minimum any discomfort that you may feel afterwards. If you suffer with your neck first thing in the morning it can be beneficial to take something before you go to bed at night.
What Patients Say
Very professional, willing to explain my questions and concerns. August 2020
Mr James Langdon was extremely helpful and informative. Fantastic bedside manner. July 2020
Mr Langdon has been fantastic. Not only, importantly, inspiring confidence, but practical and down to earth. He always ensured I had the opportunity to ask questions. Feb 2020
Extremely lucky to have Mr Langdon and his team, in every way so professional and so easy to talk with. September 2020
I had every faith in my consultant, that he was advising me and working in my best interest. September 2020
Mr Langdon is a caring person, listened to me and fully explained and discussed everything with me. I had complete confidence in him. September 2020
Once again a massive thank you to Mr Langdon and his team for their outstanding work and making the whole experience bearable. September 2020
I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for curing my pain. For months I have suffered in agony day and night. I was in despair and you were my last hope. Now I am not in pain! I am continually smiling and enjoying life again! March 2020
Mr Langdon was great from start to finish. I know that he saw me at the end of an already full clinic and on top of that arranged an immediate MRI…making him much later than he needed to be in getting home! I was in a great deal of pain and I very much appreciated his help in getting me sorted as fast as possible. He made sure I was early on in the running order of procedures on the day of my treatment and everything was explained well to me both before and afterwards. Cannot fault in any way. Thank you very much.
Very patient took his time explaining the surgery and aftercare. Very knowledge about my condition. Made me feel relaxed and in safe hands as I was very scared of the surgery itself and the possible risks.
Very caring, explained fully what was wrong and what he was going to do. December 2019
He was very professional and helpful before, during and after my minor treatment. December 2019
Mr Langdon was extremely helpful and reassuring. December 2019
Mr Langdon was clear and confident with his communication. This is reassuring for a patient. December 2019
Professional and treated to a high standard. Mr Langdon was excellent, he knew everything on my condition explaining all the options available. December 2019
Mr Langdon’s manner was very polite, professional and efficient, he answered all her questions and came to see her quickly after her epidural. June 2017
I have just completed a 102 mile walk over 7 days. Thank you so much for patching me up and making this experience possible. June 2017
Thank you for your specialist surgical and operational skills as well as your patient friendly approach. The two don’t always go together. We need people like you to maintain such high standards of surgery and care. October 2017
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you and your team following my surgery. It has been so long since I felt so well and without pain. The surgery and my recuperation has far surpassed my expectations and has made a huge difference to my lifestyle. December 2017
Three months on from my back operation and I am feeling so much better. Thank you for all the kindness and support you showed when I was in such desperate pain. February 2018
Thank you so much for the work that you have done. What an incredible job you have and do. Life changing. March 2018
Thank you for all you have done for me during the last few weeks. I am most grateful not only for the main work but also the extras like telephoning to keep me informed. April 2018
I cannot thank you enough for the success of my back operation. Everyone was so pessimistic and you were so positive. May 2018
I was at all times given all necessary information, listened to, and I had confidence that Mr Langdon would complete the operation successfully. August 2018
Highly skilled and intuitive. October 2018
He was brilliant, I felt so comfortable that he would look after me even though I felt so anxious, and he made sure to give me all the information I needed. Also, every nurse and employee of Spire had nothing but brilliant things to say about Mr Langdon – I didn’t even need to ask. They would look on my notes and see I had Mr Langdon and say I was in excellent hands, and so I felt extremely happy. My partner also has disc problems so I will very much be pointing him to Mr Langdon October 2018
Very understanding and caring chap from start to finish, and a great bedside manner, unusual for some consultants. He is trying hard to understand my problems and working with me on a treatment plan for the present, and the future. November 2018
My consultant is obviously a very competent person and comes across as such. My procedure was fully explained both before and after my surgery. He also has a professional sense of humour, which helped as I was very nervous November 2018
Mr Langdon was always prepared to fully explain what was wrong and what he could do about it, he gave me a lot of confidence to make the decision to operate, and so far so good. Albeit early days. November 2018
Mr Langdon was very professional and helpful, he came in on his day off because my treatment had to be moved. November 2018
Excellent, extremely knowledgeable on his speciality. I managed to get an appointment to see him at very short notice for which I was very grateful. December 2018
Excellent surgeon, great manner, explained procedure well. December 2018
A good sense of humour, understanding and non-judgmental. They explained everything very clearly. January 2019
Mr Langdon, very professional and calm, did not push the treatment on me which I really liked, but advised and let me make up my own mind. January 2019
James Langdon is a really good person to have on your side. He’s smart, attentive and very dedicated. January 2019
I felt very safe with Mr Langdon, he fully explained the procedure, the risks and the recovery. January 2019
A very professional consultant. Showed great care and understood me as a person and patient. Saw me pre procedure and after in recovery room and own room. Visited again before going home in late evening and yet again first thing the next morning. It felt like I was Mr Langdon’s only patient which I know is far from the truth. Unfortunately, I am a nervous patient but could not have been in better hands. Many thanks January 2019
Explained everything in detail, understood my concerns, excellent bedside manner, very professional. January 2019
James Langdon is very patient – he answers questions and really listens to you and explains again if you haven’t quite got something. March 2019
Mr James Langdon was in every way, courteous, clearly good at his particular area of expertise, took time out every day to see me and check that all was ok. Was happy to answer any questions I had. April 2019
Mr Langdon was very understanding about my condition and talked me through every procedure that could help me get more mobile again. I was always at ease with him with his caring attitude. A true professional thanks. April 2019
Mr Langdon gave a full explanation of the procedure and what would happen and what to do afterwards. Perfect. May 2019
Fully informed by Consultant Surgeon and Consultant Anaethetist who put me at ease with procedure. May 2019
I saw Mr Langdon before I had the operation and he explained everything that would happen on the day of the operation. June 2019
Very attentive, understood exactly what I was saying and made me feel confident that what I was doing was the right thing. June 2019
Mr. Langdon gave you complete confidence that all would be well and that he was available if needed at any time. He showed kindness and consideration. June 2019
Calm, professional, helpful. July 2019
Everything went off so smoothly. So pleased that the operation was so successful & the next day I was able to walk around without pain. July 2019
In overall terms he was absolutely brilliant. Clearly he is a brilliant surgeon but also a wonderful and understanding human being who, whilst pointing out the risks involved in the operation, filled me with absolute confidence that if success was possible, it would definitely be achieved – and I am delighted to say that it was. He is certainly a hero to me! It was also abundantly clear that all the staff at the hospital have absolute confidence in him and hold him in the highest regard. August 2019
Excellent, he fitted me in with an early appointment and treated me extremely well. September 2019
Extremely helpful explained everything very clearly. September 2019
Mr Langdon has been very clear and concise about the treatment he would be providing and the possible outcome. He has a very professional manner and I felt very at ease with him. He provided me with lots of information and visited me numerous times after my operation to see how I was and to explain what was done and what I should expect. I would be very happy to see Mr Langdon again in the future should I have a need to. September 2019
Caring conscientious and totally professional in all respects. September 2019
Mr Langdon gave me the confidence to go ahead with surgery that I was very worried about. He is very professional and thoroughly explained all the pros, cons and side effects that could possibly happen. All of the above helped me to make a more informed decision. October 2019
James Langdon was the consummate professional. He explained his diagnosis in plain language that was easy to understand and interpret from a layman’s point of view. He was careful to manage expectations and clear about potential risks keeping them in perspective and proportionate to the circumstances. His manner was direct whilst always retaining a caring attitude listening to the patient and answering questions clearly; even taking time out to follow up with my wife whilst I was still in post Op recovery. Very thorough and I would highly recommend James. October 2019
Fully explained the treatment I required and the reasons why. I felt very confident I was in good hands. October 2019
Professional, inspires confidence. October 2019
He was very understanding explaining everything very carefully and advising me on altering medication for the procedure and when to restart normal regime. November 2019
He was courteous, listened, understood the issue very quickly. Explained everything well and was sure to confirm I understood and asked if I had questions. I didn’t feel hurried. He provided an effective and efficient service. I’d definitely recommend him. November 2019
Professional and approachable. November 2019
Extremely happy. Care was first class throughout the stay and looked after all my needs November 2019
Very approachable, caring, friendly, put me at ease. December 2019
Very approachable and knowledgeable. Felt I was in very safe hands. December 2019
Very professional throughout. December 2019
Spire Harpenden Hospital
(01582) 714 304