What is the pathophysiology of cervical spondylosis?

Updated: Nov 09, 2018
  • Author: Sandeep S Rana, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Cervical spondylosis is the result of disk degeneration. As disks age, they fragment, lose water, and collapse. Initially, this starts in the nucleus pulposus. This results in the central annular lamellae buckling inward while the external concentric bands of the annulus fibrosis bulge outward. This causes increased mechanical stress at the cartilaginous end plates at the vertebral body lip.

Subperiosteal bone formation occurs next, forming osteophytic bars that extend along the ventral aspect of the spinal canal and, in some cases, encroach on nervous tissue. [1, 2] These most likely stabilize adjacent vertebrae, which are hypermobile as a result of the lost disk material. [3, 4] In addition, hypertrophy of the uncinate process occurs, often encroaching on the ventrolateral portion of the intervertebral foramina. [1] Nerve root irritation also may occur as intervertebral discal proteoglycans are degraded. [5]

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