Spondylosis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Spondylosis is a broad term indicating the degenerative changes of the spine. Cervical spondylosis is one of the most common conditions in today's time. It is a common age-related as well as posture related health condition which is known to affect the discs and joints of the spine. Spondylosis is also known as spine arthritis or spine osteoarthritis. Diseases associated with spondylosis usually result from regular wear and tear of the bones and cartilage of any part of the spine region. It affects more than 85% of people over the age of 60.
Causes of Spondylosis
The protective cartilage and bones present in the neck area are very susceptible to wear and tear in everyday life. This can lead to a condition called cervical spondylosis. Some of the possible causes of spondylosis are
- Bone spursOvergrowth of the bones in the neck or spine can be caused by the body trying to form some extra bone to make the spine stronger. However, additional bone growth can begin to put pressure on sensitive areas of the spine including the spinal cord, nerves and surrounding muscles, which can cause pain and discomfort while movement.
- Herniated discsThis occurs due to the development of tears in the spinal discs. These tears allow the leakage of inner material required for cushioning. This material can put pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, causing symptoms of spondylosis, including pain and numbness that radiates to the arms.
- Dehydrated spinal discsThe bones in the spine contain intervertebral discs between them. The discs are thick and paddy that helps in absorbing shock from twisting, lifting and other strenuous activities. The presence of a gel-like material between the spinal discs can dry out over time. This will cause the spinal vertebrae to rub against each other, which can cause severe pain. This process usually begins at the age of 40 years.
- InjuryIf you have a neck injury due to an accident or fall, it can accelerate the aging process of the spinal cord leading to spondylosis.
Risk Factors of Spondylosis
There are several risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop spondylosis. These include
- Someone who is older is more likely to be diagnosed with spondylosis than someone who is younger.
- People who are working that involve repetitive neck movements are more likely to develop spondylosis.
- A person with a history of neck injury also has a higher risk of developing spondylosis.
- People who smoke are at a higher risk of developing spondylosis.
Symptoms of Spondylosis
When symptoms of cervical spondylosis appear, they can range from mild to severe and can also develop gradually or even immediately.
One of the most common symptoms associated with cervical spondylosis is pain around the shoulder blades. Some people may also complain of having pain in the hands and fingers along with numbness. The pain in such cases can be exacerbated by standing, lifting heavy objects, constantly sitting, sneezing, bending the neck and other specific positions.
Some of the other common symptoms associated with cervical spondylosis can include
- Stiffness in neck muscles.
- Persistent headache that usually occurs at the back of the head.
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and shoulders.
Complications of Spondylosis
This condition may lead to
- Inability to hold stools (fecal incontinence) or urine (urinary incontinence).
- Loss of muscle function or sensation.
- Permanent disability.
- Poor balance.
Diagnosis of Spondylosis
When diagnosing spondylosis, it is important for the doctor to rule out the possibility of fibromyalgia. The diagnostic process to check for spondylosis includes special tests to determine the range of motion of the surrounding muscles, nerves, and bones.
Some of the typical tests used to diagnose cervical spondylosis include imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, EMG (electromyogram) and others.
Treatment for Spondylosis
Spondylosis treatment focuses on minimizing pain and reducing the risk of causing permanent damage. Here are some methods
- PhysiotherapyDepending on your symptoms, your doctor may refer your case to a physiotherapist. By providing proper exercise and movement to the neck and shoulder muscles, you can relieve the pain of spondylosis.
- MedicationsYour doctor may suggest several medications, including muscle relaxants, anti-epileptic drugs, narcotics, steroid injections, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
- SurgeryIf the condition becomes severe, surgery of the affected area remains the only way to relieve pain.
Home Remedies for Spondylosiss
- Regular exerciseOne of the main causes of spondylosis is lack of regular exercise. Therefore, you can reduce pain and stiffness around your neck and shoulders by incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle like walking and swimming.
- GarlicIts anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties help treat pain, swelling, and inflammation in the surrounding areas of the neck.
- Hot and cold compressesApply hot and cold compresses to the affected area. Warm compresses increase blood circulation and relaxes inflamed muscles. Cold compresses reduce swelling and inflammation.
- TurmericTurmeric is another popular remedy for cervical spondylosis. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it increases blood flow which reduces muscle stiffness and soreness. For this- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk, add a little honey. Drink 2 times a day.
- Sesame seedsA popular Ayurvedic remedy for cervical spondylosis is sesame seeds. These are high in calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamins K and D, which are good for bones and overall health. Sesame oil is also effective in relieving neck pain.
- GingerGinger is widely used to treat cervical spondylosis as this herb is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and improves blood circulation.
- NeemNeem has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can reduce pain, inflammation and swelling in the neck.
- Apple cider vinegarIt is rich in anti-inflammatory properties which is a good remedy for spondylosis. It can effectively relieve pain and inflammation in the neck or affected region of the spine.
When to visit a doctor?
Call your doctor if
- Your condition is getting worse in terms of pain, swelling or loss of sensation over that particular region.
- If stiffness over the affected region is too much.
- You develop new symptoms (for example, loss of movement).
- You develop symptoms like fainting or nausea after movement of the affected region.