What Are the Causes of Cervical Spondylosis?

Updated February 21, 2017

Cervical spondylosis is literally that pain in the neck that gets worse as you get older. There are only a few causes of this condition, but it remains one of the more common neck afflictions.


Cervical spondylosis is the gradual deterioration of the joints in your neck, eventually leading to pain and discomfort whenever the neck is moved. It commonly occurs in people over the age of 40, and can get worse as the person ages.

The degree of pain ranges from minimal to severe, with complications such as bone spurs pinching the nerve and causing temporary but severe pain.

The condition can also affect other functions around the neck, such as blood circulation and stiffness of the joints.

Ageing/Wear and Tear

The most common cause of cervical spondylosis is the natural deterioration of tendons in the joints and discs in the neck and upper back due to ageing and wear and tear over time. In some cases this wear and tear can result in the disc material between the bones of the spine protruding out and putting pressure on the nerves. In other cases the tendons become stiff, causing pain whenever the neck is moved.

Spinal Destabilization

As the body ages, the spine destabilises due to the degeneration of the discs in between the skeletal regions of the spine. To try and offset this destabilisation, your body will sometimes produce small pieces of bone that are used to stiffen the spine, mostly in the neck. The creation of these extra pieces of bone is more problematic that it is a solution, however, as they can cause the neck to stiffen and induce pain, thus causing cervical spondylosis. These new bone pieces can also pinch blood vessels, which can bring about fatigue and dizzy spells that can even lead to fainting.


Cervical spondylosis can also be more commonly known as "whiplash" when the trauma of a car accident is involved. The sudden and violent movement of the neck can cause the discs in between the skeletal regions of the spine to herniate. This in turn puts pressure on the nerves and causes cervical spondylosis.


Many infections and other inflammatory conditions can also be attributed to the onset of cervical spondylosis. Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective sheath surrounding the entire nervous system. Conditions such as HIV or herpes can trigger meningitis, and when the nerves are inflamed, they cause pain that is sometimes classified as cervical spondylosis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammation of the tendons in joints, and this can also strike the joints in between the various skeletal regions of the spine as well. When this happens in the cervical region of the spine, it is referred to as cervical spondylosis.

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About the Author

George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.