Symptoms & Signs
Symptoms often develop slowly over time, but may start suddenly.
More common symptoms are:
- Neck pain (may radiate to the arms or shoulder)
- Neck stiffness that gets worse over time
- Loss of sensation or abnormal sensations in the shoulders, arms, or (rarely) legs
- Weakness of the arms or (rarely) legs
- Headaches, particularly in the back of the head
Less common symptoms are:
- Loss of balance
- Loss of control over the bladder or bowels (if spinal cord is compressed)
Diagnosis & Tests
Examination often shows limited ability to bend the head toward the shoulder and rotate the head.
Weakness or loss of sensation can be signs of damage to specific nerve roots or to the spinal cord. Reflexes are often reduced.
The following tests may be done:
- CT scan or spine MRI
- Spine or neck x-ray
- X-ray or CT scan after dye is injected into the spinal column (myelogram)
Review Date : 7/10/2009
Reviewed By : Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.