What is cervical spondylosis (cervical osteoarthritis)?
Cervical spondylosis is also known as osteoarthritis of cervical spine (neck). This is age related wear and tear of the discs, bones and joints of the neck. As the discs dehydrate and shrink with age, bony spicules start to appear along the edges of bones. Also the discs of cervical spine gradually break down and start losing fluid causing stiffness. Thus signs of osteoarthritis start to appear.
- Age: cervical spondylosis is a normal part of aging. More than 85% of people older than age 60 years are affected by cervical spondylosis.
- Smoking: is related to increased risk of development of neck pain.
- Genes: family history increases risk of development of neck pain.
- Occupation: cervical spondylosis is seen more in people who have computer jobs or jobs which require repetitive movement of neck.
- Neck injury: injuries to the neck in past predisposes to spondylosis also.
Due to compression of nerve or spinal cord in cervical spondylosis, there could be permanent damage as well.
Symptoms and causes
Usually, people experience no symptoms but when symptoms appear then they are pain and stiffness of neck. Further symptoms doesn’t appear unless there is nerve compression or there is narrowing of the space for spinal cord. If the nerve roots or spinal cord is compressed then there would be following symptoms:
- Tingling along with numbness in arms, hands, legs or feet.
- Weakness is also felt in arms, legs or feet due nerve compression.
- Walking can also be impaired.
- Lack of coordination.
- Loss of bowel control or bladder control.
Due to aging, there is wear and tear of the cartilage and bones of the spine of neck. Due to this wear and tear there is dehydration of the disc which acts like cushion between vertebrae of the spine. Due to drying up go th cushiony disc there is bone to bone contact causing pain and stiffness.
Diagnosis & treatment
- Physical examination for checking the range of movement of neck, gait, reflexes and muscle strength.
- Neck x-ray: x-ray of neck would reveal bone growth (spurs).
- Ct scan: would give detailed image of the neck.
- Conventional treatment includes pain relieving with nsaids, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants so that patient can be relieved with pain and stiffness.
- Surgery can also be performed for removing the herniated disc or bone growth (spur).
- Therapy can also be given which includes exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles of neck and shoulders. Traction can also be given to patients to help relieving symptoms of nerve compression.
- Regular exercise: by doing regular exercise there would be rapid recovery in the symptoms of stiffness and pain.
- Improving the posture: people who have computer job should improve their posture while sitting at work and should take break after small intervals.
- Heat or ice packs: would help in relieving pain and stiffness
- Neck support: would help in giving rest to the neck muscles.
Since conventional medicines doesn’t provide full relief in symptoms and have side effects of their own, homeopathy is an alternative method of helping people having cervical spondylosis. Homeopathy would not only help in relieving the symptoms but would also help in catching the disease at the current situation.
Various medicines are available for cervical spondylosis like silicea, natrum mur, bryonia, pulsatilla etc which can be given for the condition but should be taken only when prescribed by a homeopath.
Do’s & don’ts
- Exercise regularly.
- Apply heat or cold pack.
- Swimming would also help as it stretches the ligaments.
- Do stretching regularly.
- Do neck specific exercises.
- Wear soft neck support.
- Rectify your posture.
- Don’t wait of exaggeration of symptoms.
- Don’t strain on neck.
- Don’t sit for long hours in front of computer.