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Cervical Spondylosis: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2021

What is the treatment?

Cervical spondylosis is essential a general term for the wear and tear the spinal disks located in your neck go through as you age. As you grow older, the disks tend to dehydrate and shrink, leading to osteoarthritis. Though the term may sound intimidating, it is quite common and affects over 85% of people who are over 65 years of age. More often than not, there are no associated symptoms which people suffer from. However, if there are any, nonsurgical treatments are usually effective in ridding you of them.

There are various treatment options that can help with cervical spondylosis however, it is important to note that these options do not get rid of the condition itself, but rather the symptoms that are associated with it, namely the pain. The treatment option best suited to you will depend on the severity of your pain as well as your medical history. The main goal is to ensure that you can continue with your regular daily tasks without any problems.

The first line of treatment include painkillers that are available over the counter. If these are not effective, you can speak to your general physician for more options. These options include anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroidal, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, and prescription pain killers. Physiotherapy is also a line of treatment that is often suggested, along with acupuncture. However, if none of these work and your condition worsens, you may have to undergo surgery.

What does spondylosis pain feel like?

Common symptoms associated with Cervical Spondylosis are pain and muscles getting stiffed. Pain and stiffness are usually present in a generalized form in the area of the neck or cervical region of the spine. This pain mainly has its worst form in the morning hours or at night. Pain may also be associated with movement and it is of radiating nature, spreading in the areas of the shoulder, mid-back, and head. Muscle spasm and feelings of tightness may also be observed in some cases. Headache is also a symptom which too is of radiating nature.

How is the treatment done?

Your doctor will begin by recommending pain relievers that are available over the counter. This is the mildest form of treatment and does not require prescriptions. These painkillers are often effective in getting rid of the pain within an hour of taking them. However, if you pain is extremely severe and persistent, and these painkillers do not work, you can also seek out prescription based treatments. Prescription pain killers are much stronger and tend to work on severe pain very well. However, they are not the only course of treatment you can explore.

Your doctor may prescribe a range of medications to help you with the pain. Some of these include anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroidal, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medications and antidepressants. These can help with easing the spasms in your neck or the tension in the muscles, depending on what you are taking. They are highly effective courses of treatment.

Physiotherapy is one of the most vital treatment courses that you can look into, especially when your problem is related to spinal pain. The exercises you will learn will focus on stretching your neck and strengthening the muscles. This is especially beneficial if the cervical spondylosis is causing your nerves to be pinched, which contributes to the pain. It is important to learn the right ways to move and exercise your neck in order to manage the overall pain you are in.

Acupuncture is also a good option to explore. It is known to relieving pain and can work wonders for you. If all of these treatment options do not work and your condition begins to worsen, surgery can be performed in order to add to the space in your spine and allow for some room to stretch.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Cervical spondylosis is common in people aged over 65, though some people can develop this condition at an early age as well due to their posture and lifestyle. If you have been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis and are in severe pain, you should seek out the treatments listed above.


Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Pain in the neck and shoulders can be caused by bad posture, awkward sleeping positions, or even just a rough day. Stress also contributes to your body feeling pain in muscles that are held tensely for too long. If this is the case, you may not have cervical spondylosis per se. it makes sense to visit a doctor to find out how you can avoid and treat the pain, however, you may not be eligible for the treatment of cervical spondylosis as you may not have the condition.

Is Cervical Spondylosis curable?

Cervical Spondylosis is asymptomatic in most cases and if any symptoms are seen, they usually get resolved themselves over a period of time, without undergoing treatment. However, in some cases, treatment is needed which minimizes the impact of symptoms. Application of muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and steroid therapy are some of the ways to reduce pain and discomfort. Besides these, physical exercises also work well, and in severe symptoms, surgeries may be preferred.

What happens if spondylosis is not treated?

Some of the serious complications that may occur if the condition of Cervical Spondylosis is left untreated or treatment is delayed, include the following:

  • Deformed spine.
  • Damage to the multiple joints or ligaments.
  • Risk of osteoporosis.
  • Increased chances of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Arise of problems related to eyesight.
  • Decrease in the lung capacity due to chronic inflammation.
  • Chances of occurrence of permanent disability.

Is Cervical Spondylosis serious?

Cervical Spondylosis is a commonly occurring condition and is usually asymptomatic. However, it may be accompanied by some serious symptoms if the spinal cord or nerves of the spine are adversely affected in some conditions. Those concerning symptoms include:

  • Arms, neck, hands, and feet are accompanied by weakness and feeling of numbness and tingling.
  • Difficulty in walking due to loss of control and coordination.
  • Loss of control of bowel movement or urination.

Are there any side effects?

Prescription pain killers have a few side effects to be vary of. They can cause drowsiness, exhaustion, confusion, and the urge to sleep. You may end up experiencing all or some of these side effects, which is why you will be advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery when taking the pills.

What should be avoided in Cervical Spondylosis?

Cervical Spondylosis is one of the most commonly occurring health problems nowadays. Preventive measures include:

  • Wrong positioning of neck and shoulder, ensuring the right posture for the spine.
  • Heavy loads on the neck and head.
  • Use of high pillows for sleeping.
  • Tilting the head for a longer duration.

How do you sleep with spondylosis?

Spondylosis is always accompanied by impaired sleep. There are some ways that should be preferred to promote better sleep. Some of those include:

  • Use of a firm mattress for sleeping.
  • Consumption of pain relievers such as NSAIDs.
  • Basic exercises including brisk walking, stretching.
  • Use of a thin pillow.
  • Taking warm bath.
  • Maintaining a correct posture during sleep.
  • Snoring should be managed or controlled.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Cervical spondylosis is a condition that is likely to stay with you for life, which is why the post treatment guidelines focus mainly on ways that you can avoid pain and treat it if it occurs. You will be asked to sit on specific types of chairs, like ergonomic chairs, and pay special attention to your posture and the way you sleep. There will not really be any changes in your diet but the way you carry your body will have to be something you focus on. Also, you will be advised not to do any heavy lifting or work that will cause the muscles in your neck or shoulders to strain.

How long does it take to recover?

You can gain relief from the pain as soon as you take your medication. Most pain killers take an average of 30 minutes to 45 minutes to kick in.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Pain killers in India range in price from Rs. 75 to Rs. 300, depending on the type of pain killer you are buying, and whether or not it is an over the counter one or a prescription one. Physiotherapy can cost anywhere between Rs 1,000 – Rs. 3,000 per session, again depending on where you get it from.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Cervical spondylosis is a condition that lasts a lifetime therefore you can expect the pain to come back again.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are a few home remedies that you can try in order to relieve the pain. Using an ice pack or a cold compress works well on muscular pain. Alternately, using a hot compress also works as it allows your muscles to relax and loosen up a little. Regular exercise is a good way to keep the muscles in your neck and shoulders in good shape and it can prevent attacks of pain. Also, you can get a mild neck brace after consulting with your doctor to ensure your posture does not suffer while you are working.

What is the best exercise for Cervical Spondylosis?

Exercises always prove to be much effective in the case of Cervical Spondylosis as they provide relief to the pain and discomfort and also add much-needed movement, strength as well as flexibility to the neck. Exercises that are considered to be beneficial for the condition of Cervical Spondylosis include:

  • Exercises such as chin tucks promote stretching of the muscles of the neck.
  • Exercise such as side by side head rotation increases neck mobility.
  • Exercises like Side bending increase cervical spine mobility.
Summary: Cervical Spondylosis is a commonly occurring condition nowadays and is usually asymptomatic. Application of muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and steroid therapy are some of the ways to reduce pain and discomfort. Besides these, physical exercises are also very effective. Use of a firm mattress for sleeping, consumption of pain relievers, basic exercises including brisk walking, stretching, use of a thin pillow, maintaining a correct posture, and taking a warm bath are some other preventive measures to promote better sleep in such conditions.


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Written ByDr. Sidharth Verma PDCC - Pain Management,MD - Anaesthesiology,DNB Anaesthesiology,MBBSOrthopaedics
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