Cervical spondylosis – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Overview 

Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition that impacts your neck. Soft discs often provide cushioning between your vertebrae and the bones in your spine. These discs narrow when there is cervical spondylosis.

When this occurs, the cartilage that lines the vertebrae where they meet on each side of the disc may begin to erode. When the protecting cartilage between your vertebrae wears down, spurs may form where they brush against one another.

What is Cervical spondylosis? 

Cervical spondylosis is a typical age-related disorder that affects the joints and discs in your cervical spine, which is in your neck. It is also referred to as neck arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis.

It arises from the deterioration of bones and cartilage. Although ageing is a major contributing element, there are other causes.

Some individuals don’t show any symptoms. Others may experience stiffness and prolonged, severe pain as a result. However, many of those who have it can go about their regular lives normally.

Causes of Cervical spondylosis 

Your neck’s protecting cartilage and bones are prone to damage, which can result in cervical spondylosis. These are some of the potential causes

Bone spurs

The body’s attempt to generate more bone to strengthen the spine is the cause of these overgrowths of bone. The additional bone may compress the spinal cord and other fragile structures, causing pain.

Dehydrated spinal discs

Your spine’s bones are separated by discs, which operate as thick, pad-like cushions to soften the stress of movements like raising and twisting. These discs’ interior gel-like substance tends to dry out over time. Your bones (spinal vertebrae) will rub against one another more, which may be uncomfortable. In your 30s, this process may start to take place.

Herniation

Your spinal disc may tear or split as you age naturally it is referred to as herniated disc. The disc may compress a spinal nerve or surrounding tissue due to herniation. This pressure may leave you feeling uncomfortable or numb.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic, deteriorating disorder that affects your joints’ cartilage (wears down with time). Cartilage deteriorates more quickly with osteoarthritis than it would otherwise.

Injury 

 A neck injury, such as one sustained in a slip and fall or vehicle accident, might hasten ageing.

Ligament rigidity

Over time, the tough cords that hold your spinal bones together might stiffen even more, impair neck movement and give the sensation of a tight neck.

Overuse

Some hobbies or professions require heavy lifting or repetitive motions (such as construction work). This may increase pressure on the spine and hasten wear and tear.

Symptoms of Cervical spondylosis

Most cervical spondylosis patients don’t have any noticeable symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they might range in severity from mild to severe and can occur suddenly or gradually.

One typical symptom is shoulder blade area soreness. Some people experience pain in their fingertips and down their arms. The discomfort could worsen if you are standing, coughing, tilting your neck backwards, sitting, and sneezing.

Muscle weakness is another typical sign. Lifting the arms or securely grasping objects is challenging when one’s muscles are weak. Other typical symptoms include 

  • Stiffness in the neck that worsens
  • Ache in back of head 
  • Tingling or numbness that primarily impacts the shoulders and arms but can also affect the legs.
  • Loss of balance and bowel or bladder control are less frequent symptoms. These signs and symptoms require urgent medical intervention.

Diagnosis of Cervical spondylosis 

Your doctor will conduct a physical examination to determine what is causing your neck pain or other symptoms. Your symptom severity reveals how much potential pressure your cervical spine may be experiencing. Your doctor may examine you physically to determine whether you have

  • Neck flexibility
  • Reflexes
  • Gait (how you walk)
  • Reflexes and muscle strength in your hands, arms, or legs

Doctors might inspect your neck and shoulder for trigger points (a minor bump or knot in your neck or shoulder muscle that may be the source of your pain and tenderness).

Treatment of Cervical spondylosis 

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis are not always present. You might not even need treatment if there are no symptoms. Most instances are successfully treated by conservative therapy when your illness produces symptoms. Your doctor might advise you for a

Physical therapy

Particular stretches and exercises can reduce your problems. Your muscles will be stretched, strengthened, and your posture will be improved during physical therapy. These stretches may be performed at home or with the help of a physical therapist at a clinic. Based on your unique symptoms and condition, your healthcare professional will advise you on how frequently and for how long you should perform these exercises. 

Ice, heat, and massage

The use of ice, heat, and massage can help you feel better. You’ll have to experiment to see whether heat or cold will make you feel better. Use heat or ice a few times daily for no longer than 20 minutes. Another approach that some patients might try is massage. Ask your healthcare provider if this is a viable alternative if you have a specific problem.

Oral medications

 A healthcare professional might suggest prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications depending on how much pain you’re experiencing.

Soft collar or brace

Your doctor might advise you to wear a therapeutic collar briefly. It might restrict neck motion and promote rest and recovery for sore muscles. Long-term brace use can cause muscular atrophy (wasting away). Use a collar only when directed to do so by a doctor.

Injection therapy

The afflicted region of the spine can get an injection of steroids. Short-term relief from your symptoms may be possible with injection medicines.

Your healthcare providers might consider surgery for the most severe cervical spondylosis situations, such as cervical myelopathy or radiculopathy. Surgery may involve removing bone spurs, joining the vertebrae, or removing a piece of a vertebra to make more space for the spinal cord.

Spine surgery is challenging, and the recovery period could be extended. Before evaluating whether surgery may benefit you, your healthcare professional will consider your symptoms, condition, and general health.

Home treatment options for Cervical spondylosis 

You can attempt a few home remedies if your condition is minor

  • You could consider taking an over-the-counter painkiller 
  • To relieve pain from strained muscles in your neck, apply a heating pad or a cold pack
  • Regular exercise will hasten your recovery
  • To get temporary relief, put on a soft collar or neck brace. Wearing a collar or neck brace for an extended period of time, however, is not advised as it may weaken your muscles.

Prevention of Cervical spondylosis 

Cervical spondylosis cannot be prevented because it is a natural, age-related deterioration (“wear and tear”) of the discs and joint space in your neck.

Take numerous brief breaks during the day if your profession or pastime requires you to look up, down, or with your head in an awkward position (if possible). Your healthcare professional or physical therapist can teach you the right stretches and strengthening exercises.

Applying heat or cold to your neck might help relieve discomfort and tightness in your muscles. You can also use over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce inflammation.

Always heed the advice of your physical therapist and medical providers.

Risk factors of Cervical spondylosis 

Ageing is a major risk factor for cervical spondylosis. Ageing-related changes in your neck joints often lead to cervical spondylosis. Age is a factor in disc herniation, dehydration, and bone spurs.

Factors besides ageing can increase your risk of cervical spondylosis. These consist of

  • Neck wounds
  • Activities related to your job that strain your neck more, such as heavy lifting
  • Genetic influences (family history of cervical spondylosis)
  • Smoking
  • Being inactive and overweight
  • Holding your neck in an uneasy position for an extended amount of time or making the same neck motions repeatedly all day (repetitive stress).

When to consult a doctor? 

The majority of neck pain situations resolve naturally or with nonsurgical therapies. For advice, speak with your healthcare physician if neck pain or discomfort persists for more than a few days. Get medical help if you have

  • Severe discomfort 
  • Arm numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty walking and having trouble coordinating
  • Arms or legs feel heavy or have weak muscles
  • A lack of bowel or bladder control

Conclusion 

Common and frequently age-related, cervical spondylosis can result in stiffness, discomfort, and headaches associated with neck pain. Although your doctor might not be able to reverse the illness, they can frequently suggest conservative therapy to help you manage your pain and discomfort.

FAQ’s

What is the best treatment for cervical spondylosis? 

Treatment for cervical spondylosis is determined by its severity. The purpose of therapy is to reduce discomfort, assist you in continuing your regular activities to the greatest extent feasible, and guard against long-term damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

What should be avoided in spondylosis?

Heavy lifting, excessive bending, twisting, or stooping should be prohibited, and any work- or leisure-related activities that strain the lumbar spine should be avoided. Your doctor will provide you with a rehabilitation schedule to resume your normal activities as soon as possible.

Is cervical spondylosis curable? 

Spondylosis cannot be cured, although it can be treated. Hot and cold packs are two effective therapies. Some joint and muscular pain and soreness can be alleviated by applying heat.

At what age does cervical spondylosis begin? 

Cervical spondylosis symptoms can manifest in people as young as 30 years old. However, they most frequently affect people in the 40 to 60 age range.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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