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Cervical Spondylosis: Care Instructions

The spine


Cervical spondylosis is a type of arthritis of the neck. It can happen as people get older.

You may have neck pain and stiffness. Sometimes the space around the spinal cord narrows. When this happens, it is called spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms, legs, feet, and rear end (buttocks). It can also cause loss of bowel and bladder control.

You can treat some of your symptoms with over-the-counter pain medicine. But if you have spinal stenosis with severe symptoms, you may need surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce neck pain. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Follow your doctor's recommendation about activity. The doctor may tell you not to do sports or activities that could injure your neck.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are unable to move an arm or a leg at all.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms in your arms, legs, belly, or buttocks. Symptoms may include:
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Weakness.
    • Pain.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.