(Last Updated On: October 7, 2020)
Cervical Spondylosis causes symptoms and home treatment
What makes you sit upright and straight with good well-balanced posture? Thank your backbone which is also called a spine. Your spine is the backbone of the body. The major function of the spine is to protect the spinal cord. In humans, the additional function is to transmit in the body weight in walking and standing.
Walk means to move at a regular pace on the ground. It gives you personality and supports your body weight. Walking and standing are important for the mobility of your body. It is important to protect the body from joint pain which may lead to affecting your nerves in the long run. This backbone provides you correct posture and balance for the entire body. What if this backbone is damaged. If the foundation is affected the body can’t function well. Your spinal cord is as good as your brain and heart which supports you throughout your life. It is a flexible column extending from the neck to tail made of series of bones. Nearly 85 % of people above the age of 65 suffer from neck pain.
A general term of age-related wear and tear changes of the neck. Using your neck every day will cause change to the anatomical structure overtime which would lead to pain. As the body ages on the outside so do your body age inside which leads to changes in the bony structure.
Cervical Spondylosis is a type of degenerative disorder that affects your neck. Normally soft disc between the bones in your spine which is termed as vertebrae provides cushioning. These discs will lose water dehydrate and collapse over a period of time. With cervical spondylosis these discs between the vertebrae become compressed. Also, the facets and ligaments of the spine become larger and thicker. As a result, your neck becomes more rigid over time.
When this happens the cartilage that lines the vertebrae on each side of the disc, where they touch can wear away leading to pain. Once this protective cartilage is gone, bony spurs may develop on the vertebrae where they rub together. Nerves attached to the spinal cord may get compressed on less room to pass out of the spine leading to more compression and causing pain and stiffness of the neck.
The condition becomes common with age and more common in adults and old age. Prolonged degeneration of the spine may lead to narrowing of spaces between the vertebrae and forcing out of the intervertebral disc out of space leading to compression of spinal nerves which may further lead to tingling numbness in the arms. This includes neck pain, shoulder pain, suboccipital pain with headache, radical symptoms, and cervical spondylotic myelopathy. As disc degeneration occurs mechanical stresses result in osteophytic bones. It usually affects middle-aged and elderly people. There is commonly spinal cord dysfunction among people older than sixty. The initial symptoms unsteady jerk movement and loss of flexibility of the neck. You may not experience any symptoms at first as these changes are happening in the body
Cervical spondylosis does not cause disability but it can cause compression of the nerves leading to weakness and clumsiness of the hands in the long run.
The column of bones called the vertebrae to make up the spine. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord, along with the fragile structure in the spinal canal which runs through the center of the spine. Between the vertebrae, there is a disc that is composed of the cartilage which helps in cushioning of the spine and acts as a shock absorber giving flexibility to the spine and range of movements. Like the brain spinal cord is covered by three layers of meninges. Emerging from the spinal between the vertebrae are thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves. The cervical spine specifically is made up of seven highly mobile segments. It performs two functions
Structural support for the head Protecting the cervical spine and the exiting nerve roots enclosed within it. Disc pressure increases when your neck bends forwards sideways or tilts. The outer layer of this tough tissue is called the annulus fibrosis and the inner layer which is soft gel-like material called the nucleus pulposus helps inflexibility of the spine and acts as a shock absorber.
The spinal canal is the passage that runs through the cervical spine and contains the spinal cord. As age advances Osteoarthritis becomes more common. It causes vertebrae in the neck to degenerate. When the bone in the vertebrae attempts to repair itself, it overgrows producing abnormal overgrowth called the bony spurs narrowing the spinal cord. This disc between the neck degenerates decreasing the cushioning effect that protects the spinal cord. These changes in the spinal cord compress leading to spinal dysfunction. It is more susceptible to injury because the tissue is damaged. Minor neck trauma due to falls or whiplash can severely damage the spinal cord.
Causes of cervical spondylosis :
Genetics: Genetics plays an important role in the anatomy of the spine. If your parents have cervical spondylosis chances are that you might develop the same due to early arthritic changes in the spine.
Age and use: Age is the contributing factor in this disorder where the use of the body is also an important feature. It is often seen in people beginning in the 5th decade of life
Previous trauma or injury: Any kind of previous trauma or injury can cause stress to the backbone and lead to a breakdown of the spine.
Occupation: Repetitive motion of the neck or stress can lead to degeneration of the spine
Symptoms of cervical spondylosis
The symptom may vary from person to person depending on age severity and duration of pain in an individual. They are as follows:
- Pain in the nape of the neck
- Grinding feeling when you move your neck
- Pain radiating from neck to shoulders or arms
- Weakness in your arms and legs
- Numbness in your shoulders and arms
- Stiffness in neck
- Trouble keeping a balance while walking
- Trouble controlling bowel and bladder
- Restricted neck movement.
- Limited range of movement
- Muscles in the neck may become tight or fatigued
Cervical spondylosis is the potential cause of neck-related dizziness. When the system works improperly receptors can’t communicate to the brain causing dizziness and other sensory dysfunction. Cervical spondylosis with radiculopathy and myelopathy may lead to disability because of nerve compression which could cause the loss of bowel and bladder movement. Because of the combination of neurological symptoms and bone degeneration, it is commonly seen in patients suffering from arthritis. Cervical spondylosis may be difficult to be distinguished from the neurological disease with unrelated arthritis.
Your healthcare provider will do a physical examination to check if you have these problems. The doctor might check your neck arms and shoulders to check everything is functioning well.
Imaging test: Xray MRI CT Scan may help in providing the details about the structure of bones and cartilage. This can show bones disks muscles nerves and the attached spinal cord condition leading to pain
Myelography: During this test, the doctor might inject into the fluid around the spinal cord a dye and take a scan to check how the bony spurs and bones are interacting with spinal nerves.
Electromyography: This scan shows how the muscles are interacting with bones and nerves
DEXA SCAN: This is to determine bone density.
Your doctor will recommend you following treatment depending on the severity of the pain
Medications: Your doctor will prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease out the pain
Physiotherapy: The physiotherapist may advise you to do exercises to ease out your stiffness. Some strengthening exercises will help you with the flexibility of your neck…
Injection Shots: A healthcare provider may inject your joint with pain-relieving medicines or steroidal injections into your painful joint or joint space in your spine to ease out your symptoms of pain.
Surgery: In most cases, surgery is not needed. But the surgeon may advise you on the different procedures to reduce your pain and to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Surgery may be advised in case of nerve compression. Nerve decompression is done to achieve segmental decompression of the spine
Popping pills to ease out pain is not suitable in the long run. Follow these top 20 remedies at home to ease out the pain and protect your spine.
You may not be able to prevent cervical spondylosis but you can carry out these 20 steps to ease out pain:
- Stay physically active
- Use good posture
- Prevent neck injuries by using the right types of equipment right from exercising or playing sports
- Avoid trauma to the neck
- A soft neck brace: This can temporarily relieve neck pain which will relieve the symptoms to some extent as well as provide support to the joints.
- Regular stretching is equally important to relieve the stiffness of your muscle
- Do not carry a heavyweight on shoulders such as heavy bags or luggage
- A Professional massage will help ease out the stress and neck
- Ice or heat: Cool your neck with an ice pack or heat to take care of your symptoms as directed by a professional.
- A firmer mattress for the back with a good pillow for head support will help in the long run by correcting the sleeping position
- Avoid sitting in front of a computer for long hours.
- Avoid bending the neck forward which may cause pressure on the neck
- Do some neck strengthening exercises
- To build up your cartilage take your collagen supplements along with glucosamine and chondroitin supplements if you are not diabetic
- Take Vitamin B12 supplement along with important multivitamin supplements which will help your nerves to function well.
- Garlic: It works wonders as a pain remedy to take care of pain and inflammation
- Tumeric with milk: The curcumin extract in Tumeric is a natural booster to relieve pain and to avoid pain killers.
- Consume omega 3 in your diet. Take a good amount of fish, flaxseed, and nuts in your diet, or take additional supplements as it has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in swelling of the joints. It also helps nerve functioning.
- Follow a healthy low-fat diet with a balanced meal and good nutrition
- Try acupressure therapy from a professional: the Basic range of motion with stretching exercises can help.
If the case is left untreated it may lead to complications causing the severity in the range of motion and the mobility of the neck joint. So follow these simple steps at initial stages to avoid complications in the long run which may lead to disability and dependency on painkillers affecting the quality of life.