This article discusses cervical spondylosis and the role of physiotherapy in cervical spondylosis.
The word ''osis'' means degeneration. So, cervical spondylosis is the degeneration of the cervical (neck) spine that usually involves the lower cervical spine. Disc degeneration occurs with the loss of mucopolysaccharide and proportionately the water content of the collagen fibers. The disc height is decreased, and gradually it is converted to a fibrous mass. As a result, the mobility of the spine decreases. The energy attenuation capacity of the disc reduces. So, the vertebral body will be subjected to a greater load. There occurs compensatory bony proliferation with marginal osteophyte formation. It continues to IV foramen stenosis, compression of the exiting nerve root, and may give rise to radiculopathy. Degeneration is a slow process during which the nerve root may accommodate within the stenosis foramen without giving rise to any symptoms.
Injury, overactivity, and doing unaccustomed activities may result in injury of the nerve root, inflammation, impairment of the circulation, ischemia, and onset of radicular pain (the pain will radiate to hands and palms, a tingling type of pain).
Symptoms can vary as an insidious onset of neck pain with or without radiating down to the hand, palm, and scapular region. The onset of symptoms with some known trauma, where the pain is reproduced or worsened with neck movement, and relief is obtained with rest.
Posture - often occurs in head forward posture. Cervical kyphosis or flattening of the cervical spine may be present.
The aim of physiotherapy is to restore the movement and reduce pain. The steps include:
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The best treatment for cervical spondylosis are neck exercises like neck moving and painkillers like:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Muscle relaxants such as Cyclobenzaprine help relieve muscle spasms in the neck.
- Anti-seizure medications such as Gabapentin (Neurontin, Horizant) and Pregabalin (Lyrica) can dull the pain of damaged nerves.
The symptoms of cervical spondylosis of the neck are:
- Pain around the shoulder blade.
- Pain along the arm and in the fingers.
- Increase in pain during standing, sitting, sneezing, coughing, or bending the neck backward.
- Muscle weakness.
- Neck pain and stiffness.
- Numbness in the shoulder and arms.
- Loss of control or balance over the bowel and bladder movements.
The things you should avoid in cervical spondylosis are:
- Sleeping on your stomach.
- Sudden movement or twisting of the neck or the body, and should practice only gradual movement, which gives time for the body to adapt to the change.
- Using thick pillows under the neck.
- Inappropriate posture while lying down or sitting.
- Lifting heavyweights.
- Performing high-impact exercises.
- Canned and processed food and foods with added preservatives and artificial colors.
Walking is a very great and safe exercise in cervical spondylosis compared to the gym and other activities.
Gentle exercises like swimming, walking, cycling, or water exercises like hydrotherapy and aqua aerobics are the best exercises for cervical spondylosis.
Cervical spondylosis is an age-related disease that affects the joints and discs in the cervical spine, which is in the neck. It is also called cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis. Cervical spondylosis is not a progressive disease, but only surgery can correct the condition in severe cases.
No, you should not lift heavy weights when you have cervical spondylosis.
The leading cause of spondylosis are aging and osteoarthritis. Others include:
- Previous neck injuries.
- Improper positioning of the neck due to occupation.
- Genetic factors.
The health of the cervical spine is vital for the brain's health to be proper because cervical spondylosis can affect the drainage of the brain and the CSF flow in the spinal cord and the brain.
Spondylosis, if left untreated, can lead to chronic pain and permanent damage to the disc and other structures.
Cervical compressive myelopathy is the most severe complication of cervical spondylosis.
People with cervical spondylosis should keep a pillow between their legs if they are a side sleeper or keep the pillow under the knees if they sleep on their back. It is not advisable to sleep with a thick pillow or asleep on their stomach.
The spondylosis pain can be mild to severe and could also develop gradually or even spontaneously. The most common symptom correlated with cervical spondylosis is pain around the shoulder blade.
Food that is good for spondylosis are:
1. Calcium: Foods with high calcium content for strengthening the bones. Example milk, cheese, salmon, spinach, and dark green vegetables.
2. Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps your bones to absorb calcium. Foods like egg yolk, milk, salmon, sardines, mushroom, and finally sunlight.
3. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is helpful in collagen formation and good for bones and gums. Foods with high Vitamin C are oranges, lemons, carrots, grapefruit, papaya, guava, red-colored fruits, and vegetables.
4. Vitamin E: Vitamin E is important to stimulate cartilage-building proteins in the body. This can help to reduce stiffness, inflammation, and pain. Food with vitamin E are green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, seeds, almonds, whole grains, nuts, tomatoes, mango, kiwi, and dried apricots.
5. Ginger and Garlic: These two ingredients can be a way to get rid of inflammation and pain. Ginger and Garlic are both rich in anti-inflammatory properties and helpful in dealing with inflammation and pain.
Throat problems like swallowing difficulties can be seen in patients with cervical spine disorder or cervical instability induced by weakened, torn, and damaged ligaments in the neck.
Yes, cervical spondylosis patients can feel fatigued. Proper sound sleep and medications with physical therapies will help to reduce fatigue and tiredness.
The pain of cervical spondylosis can spread to the shoulder or down the arm. Though it is commonly seen in the neck region, it can affect other spine parts and cause back pain.
Cardiac problems are reported in one in ten patients with spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis causes lower back pain and stiffness and increases the risk of heart diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. During severe cases of cervical spondylosis, the autonomic nerves of the spinal cord are injured and end in extensive abnormalities of the autonomous function of the heart and blood vessels.
Cervical spondylosis with myelopathy is the impaired function of the spinal cord induced by the degenerative changes in the discs and facet joints in the cervical spine.
There is no complete cure for cervical spondylosis, but the treatment aims to relieve pain and prevent permanent damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots. With therapy, there is improved mobility for the neck, hands and a marked reduction in the inflammation of the disc.
In severe cervical spondylosis cases, disc degeneration caused by changes in the spine structure may cause stress or pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord, affecting the joints and the discs. This may lead to arm or leg symptoms that need surgery to be corrected.
Cervical spondylosis usually takes six weeks after the treatment to heal. Taking proper rest in the acute phase will help to recover faster and prevent worsening of the condition.
Last reviewed at:
17 Mar 2022 - 1 min read
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