What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical Spondylosis is the most common growing health issue that affects the discs and points in the cervical spine. This neck problem is often known as Neck Arthritis or Cervical Osteoarthritis. It can affect any person irrespective of age, gender, or class, but mostly found in old age group. The tear and wear of bones and cartilage give rise to Cervical Spondylosis. However, there are certainly other factors that also cause cervical. According to a study done by the Cervical Clinic, Cervical Spondylosis is present in almost more than 90 percent of people who are at the middle age or at the age of 60 years or above. People suffering from this disease may experience stiffness, severe and chronic pain.
Cervical Spondylosis cause changes to the discs, joints, and bones of the neck. With the growing age, the discs, joints, and bones gradually break down, become stiff and lose fluid. The spurs or abnormal growths of the degeneration of joints, discs, and other cartilage cause narrowness in the opening where the spinal nerves exit or interior of the spinal column. This condition is known as Spinal Stenosis.
Cause of Cervical Spondylosis
Bones and other protective cartilage may cause wear and tear that leads to cervical spondylosis. However, the possible reasons that cause this problem are;
The body induces to grow extra bone for making the spine stronger. Bone spurs are the overgrowth of bone. This extra bone makes pressure on the delicate area of the spine such as nerves and spinal cord.
The cracks and gap in the spinal bone give rise to the leakage of the internal cushioning material. It puts pressure on the nerves and spinal cord that result in pain and arm numbness.
Dehydrated Spinal Discs
The spinal bones consist of discs in between. Those discs are thick and soft pad like cushions which tend to absorb the shocks of twisting, lifting, and other such activities. There is gel-like material inside the discs that get dry with time. It makes the spinal vertebrae or bone more painful as they rub with each other.
You may experience cervical pain if you have an injury in your neck during a car accident or a fall or any other accident. The pain of this injury accelerates with the aging process.
The cord which connects the spinal bones with each other gets stiffer over time. It affects the movement of your neck and turning o the head making the neck tight.
Risk Factors associated with Cervical Spondylosis
The huge risk factor that involves causing the pain of cervical spondylosis is aging. Dehydrated spinal discs, herniated spinal discs, and bone spurs are the consequences of the growing age. The other factors that increase the risk of this problem are;
- Being inactive
- Overweight or obesity
- Genetic factors
- The family history of cervical spondylosis
- Neck injuries
- Work or activities related to neck or puts extra pressure or strain on neck such as heavy lifting
- Repetitive stress
- Holding the neck for a longer period of time in an uncomfortable posture
- Wrong neck posture
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
Neck pain is the most common symptom which is found in the patients of cervical. It is associated with the dull aching and gets worst with the turning of head or movement of the neck. This pain may increase when;
- Titling the neck backward
Moreover, some other symptoms are a sharp shooting pain, tenderness, pulsations, numbness, lightheadedness, tingling, dizziness, swelling in the lymph node gland, or swishing sounds in the head. The chief symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis are;
- Pain in neck
- Stiffness in neck
- Headache that originates from the neck
- Pain in the arm and shoulders
- Unable to bend the neck
- Not able to turn the neck completely
- A sensation when neck turns
- Fever, sometimes
- Muscle pain
- Grinding noise
However, these symptoms tend to improve with rest. They are most severe at the beginning of the day and end o the day.
When the Cervical Spondylosis put the pressure on the spinal cord, Cervical Stenosis, then this condition is named as Cervical Myelopathy. People who suffer from this situation may experience the following symptoms,
- Weakness in the hands, legs, feet, and arms
- Numbness in the hands, legs, feet, and arms
- Tingling in the hands, legs, feet, and arms
- Abnormal reflexes
- Loss of control over bowel and bladder
- Muscle spasms
Testing and Diagnosing Cervical Spondylosis
For diagnosing cervical spondylosis, it is necessary to determine the movement of muscles, bones, and nerves. Your doctor may treat this problem or may refer you to a neurologist, orthopedic specialist, or a neurosurgeon for the best treatment and diagnosing.
The doctor may inquire about the symptoms of cervical and problems that you are experiencing. However, he can also refer some tests like checking for weak muscles, testing the reflexes, testing the range of the motion of the neck or sensing the deficits. Your doctor often asks you to walk as it will help him in determining the amount of pressure that affects the nerves and spinal cord.
- X-rays are used for checking the abnormalities and bone spurs.
- CT scan provides a clear and detailed image of the neck.
- A dye injection is used in a myelogram for highlighting the areas of the spine.
- An electromyogram is used for checking the normal functioning of the nerves.
Treatment of Cervical Spondylosis
The treatment for cervical mainly focuses to lower the risk of damage, providing relief from pain and helping you to get rid out of it and live a normal life.
Physical therapy is the most effective treatment to provide relief from cervical spondylosis. It stretches the muscles of the shoulder and neck making them strong. There is a possibility of having neck traction as it increases the space between the cervical joints and puts the pressure on the nerve roots and cervical discs.
There are certain medicines that work effectively on cervical spondylosis such as;
- Antiepileptic drugs such as gabapentin or Neurontin, that provide relief from the pain caused due to nerve damage
- Muscle relaxants drugs such as cyclobenzaprine or fexmid that treat the muscle spasms
- Narcotics drugs such as hydrocodone or Norco are used as a pain reliever
- Steroid injections like prednisone are used to reduce the inflammation of the tissues and minimize the cervical pain
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAID, like Voltaren XR and diclofenac for reducing inflammation
The last option for treating cervical spondylosis is surgery. If the movement of your arms and shoulders get effect due to this problem then only your doctor will recommend this.
Natural Remedies for Cervical Spondylosis
- Make use of a cold pack or heating pad to get relief from sore muscles.
- Regular exercise is a must to do for recovering faster with cervical.
- Prefer wearing a soft collar or soft brace for temporary relief as using it for a longer period may affect your muscles or make them weaker.
When to visit the doctor?
When you suspect any symptoms related to cervical spondylosis, you should consult your doctor for a better recommendation of medicines.
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