What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis is a disorder in which there is abnormal wear on the cartilage and/bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) and it is a common cause of chronic neck pain. It is a degenerative condition of the cervical spine affecting the middle and old age group of both sexes leads to pain and stiffness in the neck, radiating pain to the arm, paraesthesia, numbness, headache, giddiness, etc.
In Ayurveda, Cervical spondylosis is caused by a Vata dosha aggravation and it’s mainly a Vata problem. Its clinical presentation is similar to Vishwachi in which degenerative condition of the cervical spine is common. It’s a disease that mainly affects the neck and upper extremities having signs and symptoms similar to that of cervical spondylosis. Vishwachi is a vataja nanatmaja vikara. The involvement of Vata in the clinical manifestation of vishwachi is of prime importance.
Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms & Signs
- Often develop slowly over time, but they get worse suddenly
- Pain may be mild/it can be deep and so severe that affected movements
- After standing/sitting at night, the pain gets worsen
- Pain over the shoulder blade/it may spread to the upper arm, forearm, fingers
- Pain gets worse at night/sneezing/coughing/laughing/bending the neck backward/walking more than a few yards
- Muscles weakness
- Neck stiffness that gets worsen
- Abnormal sensation/numbness in the shoulders/arms/legs
- Headache (especially back of the head)
- Balance loss
- If pressure occurs on the spinal cord then, loss of control occurs over the bladder/bowels
- Moving the head may make the pain worse and after sleeping neck stiffness is more common
- Sometimes, these all changes result in a compression of the blood vessels, it can affect the blood supply to the brain and results in dizziness and blackouts
- Dysphagia can occur rarely
Cervical Spondylosis Causes
- It is caused by chronic wear on the cervical spine, includes the discs/cushions between the neck vertebrae and the joints b/w the bones of the cervical spine, there may be abnormal growths/spurs on the bones of the spine (vertebrae)
- The major risk factor is aging. At the age of 60, most persons show signs of cervical spondylosis
- Other factors include
- Being overweight/not exercising
- Having a job that requires heavy lifting/lot of bending/twisting
- Past neck injury
- Past spine surgery
- Ruptured/slipped disc
- Severe arthritis/small fractures/osteoporosis
When to See Your Doctor for Cervical Spondylosis Disease?
When pain and stiffness around the neck occur for long days and found unable to move properly your neck and facing difficulty and pain while bending, along with signs and symptoms that affect your daily routine, then you should consult the doctor.
Risk Factors of Cervical Spondylosis
Age- it’s a normal part of aging, occurs more commonly in old age persons
Occupation- Overhead work put extra stress on your neck
- Neck injuries/Trauma
- Genetic factors inherent
- Repeated occupational trauma: carrying axial loads/professional dancing/gymnastics
- Some conditions that contribute to segmental instability and excessive segmental motion like congenitally fused spine/cerebral palsy/down syndrome
- Some myelopathy causes
- Smoking also a risk factor
- Cervical radiculopathy
Cervical Spondylosis Prevention
- Regular exercise for the speedy recovery
- A heated pad/cold pack can provide pain relief when the neck muscles become sore
- A soft neck brace can temporarily relieve pain if a person wears them for short periods
- Maintain neck muscle strength, especially neck extensor strength for prevention in general
- Avoid holding the head in 1 position (for long duration)
- Avoid prolonged head extension
- Be careful while performing physical activities
- Hot shower in the morning can help
- Headrest & seatbelt also may reduce the risk of developing this condition
Yoga Therapy: balasana, natarajasana, bitilasana, marjaryasana, viparitakaranai asana, utthita trikonasana, shavasana can help to reduce the effect of cervical spondylosis
Diagnosis of Cervical Spondylosis
- EMG & nerve conduction velocity test may be done to examine nerve root function
- The doctor will check the range of motion in your neck for proper identification and location of pain
- Reflexes and muscle strength will be tested to find out if there’s pressure on your spinal nerves/spinal cord
- Gait examinations
- Nerve conduction study
What to avoid in Cervical Spondylosis?
- Potato/cucumber/cold drinks/ice-cream/rajma/dry meat, etc. Avoided
- Bending/sudden stretching/weight lifting to be avoided for making it more severe
- Long journey on two-wheeler/sitting in abnormal posture/sitting for a long time to be avoided
- Avoid holding the head in 1 position ( for longer duration)
- Avoid prolonged head extension
- Be careful while performing physical activities
- Consumption of high-fat dairy products can lead to inflammation
- Avoid processed food completely
- Avoid meat and dairy products which contain saturated foods & arachidonic acids
- Avoid more caffeine consumption
- Avoid red meat
- Avoid foods that lead to more production of acidity
- Avoid spicy/hot/salty/oily foods
What to eat in Cervical Spondylosis?
- Black gram/horse gram/wheat/rice
- Gingili oil/mustard oil/milk/butter/soar fruits
- Dry grapes/garlic
- Drumstick fruits & leaves
- Consume a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory food substances
- Fish/nuts/oilseeds/omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin- E rich foods
- Turmeric milk
- Diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids
- Replace rice with wheat
- Bitter gaud/drumstick bitter vegetables
Questions & Answers
Q1. Why Cervical Spondylosis occur in old-age people?
Ans. Older age is a risk factor as in addition to age, people often get more likely to experience neck pain. It is the general term for age-related wear & tear affecting the spinal discs in the neck region. Also, it is caused due to disks dehydration and shrinking. In most people age > 50, discs between the vertebrae become less spongy & provide less of a cushion. Bones & ligaments get thicker and encroached the space of the spinal canal.
Q2. If myelopathy occurs with cervical spondylosis, then what will be the symptoms like?
Ans. Symptoms of cervical spondylosis with myelopathy include tingling/numbness/weakness in the arms, hands, legs, feet/lack of coordination & difficulty walking/abnormal reflexes/muscle spasms/loss of control over bladder/bowel incontinence.
Q3. How is Cervical Spondylosis diagnosed properly?
Ans. By taking a medical history with signs and symptoms appearing, it will be followed by a physical exam of the body by focussing on the neck/back/shoulders. The strength of hands and arms/reflexes test/loss of sensation checkups/walk/equilibrium can be tested. Other tests also can be done include x-ray/computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging( MRI), EMV tests, etc.
Q4. According to Ayurveda, which disease is similar to that of cervical spondylosis?
Ans. In Ayurveda, Cervical spondylosis is caused by a Vata dosha aggravation and it’s mainly a Vata problem. Its clinical presentation is similar to Vishwachi in which degenerative condition of the cervical spine is common. It’s a disease that mainly affects the neck and upper extremities having signs and symptoms similar to cervical spondylosis. Vishwachi is a vataja nanatmaja vikara. The involvement of Vata in the clinical manifestation of vishwachi is of prime importance.
Q5. What exactly is the meaning of the term ‘Spondylosis’?
Ans. Spondylosis is basically a painful condition and situation of the spine which results from the degeneration of the intervertebral discs. Often, it is considered a general term for age-related wear & tear of the spinal discs. It affects the vertebral discs and facet joints that gradually develop with age. This condition can narrow the spinal canal that further results in the compression of the spinal cord & nerve roots. Chronic compression can lead to damage to the spinal cord/can cause radicular arm pain further.
Q6. What are the complications of Cervical Spondylosis?
Ans. Complications of cervical spondylosis include: cervical myelopathy/paraplegia/tetraplegia/recurrent chest infection/pressure sores/recurrent urinary tract infection/progressive neurologic deficits/documented compression of the cervical nerve root/or spinal cord/intractable pain.
Q7. What is the role of psychosocial support in the treatment of cervical spondylosis?
Ans. Some patients with significant disabilities often react with fear/anxiety/depression. Postoperative depression is significantly associated with pain intensity/pain interference/pain-related disability. After surgery, results of one study of depression/negative affect among spinal surgery patients suggest postoperative screening for depression and treating depression to improve functional outcomes after spine surgery.
Q8. What are the various exercises and therapies recommended for cervical spondylosis?
Ans. Various exercises recommended to ease the symptoms of cervical spondylosis are neck stretch/neck tilt/side-to-side neck tilt/neck turn with 5 repetitions. In Ayurveda, some yoga therapies are there like, balasana, natarajasana, bitilasana, marjaryasana, viparitakaranai asana, utthita trikonasana, shavasana can help to reduce the effect of cervical spondylosis.
Q9. What is the role of physical therapy in the treatment of cervical spondylosis?
Ans. Usually, immobilization of the cervical spine occurs with severe cervical spondylosis with evidence of myelopathy. It limits the motion of the neck. Soft cervical collars are recommended for daytime use only. Patient’s tolerance and compliance are considered when any braces used. Isometric cervical exercises may help to limit the loss of muscle tone. Molded cervical pillows can better align the spine during sleep & provide symptomatic relief for some patients. Neck & upper back exercises are recommended. Yoga therapies also play an important role to reduce the inflammation and pain in cervical spondylosis.
Q10. How cervical spondylosis is cured through the Ayurveda line of treatment?
Ans. During the acute phase (about a week), usually complete bed rest & use of a thin pillow & hard bed is recommended. After acute phase, some panchakarma procedures like sadyovirechana, greevabasti, abhyanga, patra pinda sveda, nasya should be done.
Podikkizhi, ilakikizhi, greeva pichu, tailadhara, panchatikta & ksheera basti, shalishastic pinda sweda is also recommend. Mainly, all the above procedures done after examine the bala and prakriti of the patients. Along with these procedures, shamana chikitsa with recommend classical formulations should be given to the patient.
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