Cervical Spondylosis is a degenerative disease. There are soft disks between the bones in spine which provide cushioning around these bones. In Cervical Spondylosis, these disks become compressed as they wear away with age. Once this cushion is gone, spurs may develop on the vertebrae where they rub together. This affects the nerves attached to the spinal causing pain and discomfort.
Cervical Spondylosis is a common age related condition that has neck pain and stiffness as common symptoms. This condition worsens with age. With age, the bones and cartilage that make up the backbone and neck gradually develop wear and tear. The spinal disks on the neck dehydrate and shrink bony structure of the edges of bones or bone spurs develop.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
The symptoms of cervical Spondylosis are observed generally at a later stage. The most common symptom includes:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Tingling and/or numbness and weakness in your arms, hands, legs or feet
- Lack of coordination and difficulty walking
- A grinding feeling when moving neck
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
The most common causes that are associated with Cervical Spondylosis include:
- Bone spurs or the overgrown bones that cause pressure on the regular bones can sometimes pinch the spinal cord and nerve roots causing the condition.
- Dehydrated and shrinking disks develop with age in the body. This dehydration causes friction between bones due to the loss of the disk cushion.
- Herniated disks which is development of cracks in the spinal disks. With age the cracks could appear, leading to herniated disks.
- Stiff ligaments and tissues in the spine can stiffen with age, making the neck less flexible.
The diagnosis starts with physical examination by checking the range of motion in the neck. The doctors might also want to know about the medical history or of any injury that could have caused the problem. Movements to check for tenderness, numbness and muscle weakness, as well as see to see the range of head or neck movement could be made. The doctor could check how far the head moves forward, backward and side to side.
These physical tests could be followed by:
- X-rays can show abnormalities, such as bone spurs or fractures in bone causing the pain
- A CT scan can provide more detailed imaging of bones from various angles at the same time.
- An MRI can help pinpoint areas where nerves might be pinched.
- Myelography could also be done where in a tracer dye is injected into the spinal canal to provide more detailed imaging.
- Electromyography could be done to measure nerve activity.
- A nerve conduction study could also be done to measure the strength and speed of nerve signals by passing a shock through the nerve.
Other tests like blood tests could also be suggested as per the patient’s condition.
Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis
The treatment for cervical Spondylosis depends on the severity. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and help continue the usual daily routine. The treatment options include:
- Physical Therapy
The aim of Physical Therapy is to strengthen the muscles around neck and shoulder. The exercises cause relief from the numbness and stiffness that is causing the discomfort.
The medication could be a dose of pain killers at the start. When the pain still persists, doses of medications to help with muscle relaxations, pain relief, and reducing inflammation could be advised.
- The surgery to treat a cervical pain condition is always only a last recommendation especially in old patients. It is considered only when any medication or physical therapy is not helping the patient and the pain is severe and is disturbing the daily activities. The aim of the surgery is to remove the cause of the pain i.e. in case of an over grown bone the doctors might remove it to release pressure on the spine thus causing relief from the pain. ANTERIOR CERVICAL DISCECTOMY AND FUSION (ACDF) surgery is performed on Spondylosis patients.
Treating Mild Cervical Spondylosis at home using conventional remedies
Remedies for mild cervical Spondylosis condition include:
- Applying a heat or ice pad around sore muscles
- Practicing mild exercises under the guidance of a cervical therapy expert or a professional therapist
- Using a wearable soft neck collar or brace to minimize the neck movement
- Resting enough and avoiding overuse of the bones to heal properly
Risk factors of Cervical Spondylosis include:
- Age is the major factor causing Cervical spondylosis as it is a normal part of aging
- Injuries could also cause damage to neck and could even cause the condition later if not immediately.
- Jobs involving excessive neck motions could cause rapid wear and tear extra stress on the neck.
- Smoking can put one at higher risk of developing neck pain too
Prevention of Cervical Spondylosis
Though one may not be able to prevent the cervical spondylosis condition, but the risk could be reduced. Here are few tips on simple lifestyle changes that one might consider:
- Back Pain Exercises regularly to keep the neck and spine healthy
- Practice good posture every time and everywhere whether standing, sitting or sleeping
- Avoid stressing the neck by preventing stressful neck actions
- Always be cautions and wear protective gear while driving or playing sports
- Following proper Nutrition / diet plan to prevent the back pain
An expert healthcare provider could help relieve the symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis. A proper diagnosis and complete treatment of Cervical Spondylosis is necessary. It is important to approach a Spine Doctor or Spine Clinic to get diagnosed accurately to get complete relief