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Hi there and thank you for the question
Osteoarthritic changes in the spine (any area of the spine) are usually age related unless it is genetic or due to trauma. This could also be related to other issues such as DDD (degenerative disc disease). Physical therapy is great for this type of problem if your insurance will pay for it. People who have issues with their cervical spine like this will often have times of pain and then times where the neck will not bother them much. The key is finding ways to manage the pain at home and being able to deal with it as best you can without surgery if possible.
Hi Bill, and thanks for replying back
Genetic predisposition to DDD would be knowing whether or not your family members have it (mother/father/grandparents)...no specific tests exist. DDD happens when the disc lose their ability to be flexible or cushion the spine. Age can be a huge contributing factor with DDD. The disc 'dry out' over the years and can cause DDD. Small tears in the annulus, bone spurs, and narrowing of the spinal canal can be contributing factors also. The MRI should have shown DDD. If it was not reflected in the report, it still could have been seen just not mentioned.
Osteoarthritic changes in general comes from normal wear and tear on the joints (facet joints and spine), prior injury to the area, or cartilage that is weakened by other disease. If you feel you may have something autoimmune going on, blood test would have to be performed along with regular xray, bone density scan, and regular physical exam. Your regular Dr can send you for any or all of these tests or refer you to a Rheumatologist (specialty Physician in this area).