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Arthritis in the Neck - Cervical Spondylosis

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Updated April 10, 2014

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Risk Factors for Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is common in people who have had neck injuries. Below is a list of common pre-cursors to neck arthrtis relevant to active people:

  • carrying axial loads on your head (for example, carrying a heavy surfboard down the beach to the waves)
  • professional dancing
  • professional gymnastics.

For more typical cases of neck arthritis, congenital, genetic and acquired risk factors have been identified by researchers. You might consider that:

  • Neck arthritis, like some other types of back problems, may run in families.
  • A congenitally narrow spinal canal increases the risk of developing cervical spondylosis with myelopathy. With a narrow spinal canal, the spinal cord -- a very sensitive structure that relays feelings to the brain and movement commands from the brain to the muscles -- has less space to fit inside the column of bone it occupies.

    Narrowing of the spinal canal can also be caused by thickening of spinal ligaments and bone; although these are age related changes, they have the same effect as congenital narrowing.
  • And several varieties of excessive segmental motion such as atlantotaxial instability, often present in persons with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and rheumatoid arthritis, are known risk factors for arthritis in the neck.
  • Smoking contributes to degenerative disk disease, and is therefore a risk factor.
  • History of trauma (hits and blows) to the forehead predispose one to cervical spondylosis.

Related: Smoking and Back Pain

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