Is Cervical Spondylosis A Serious Condition & How Can It Be Treated?
Is cervical spondylosis a serious condition? How can it be treated? Many such questions may revolve in your mind and this article tries to answer such questions to make it possible to deal with this condition better.
Is Cervical Spondylosis A Serious Condition?
Cervical spondylosis is a very common degenerative disorder. It involves changes in the bones, discs, and joints of the neck, which are caused by normal wear and tear of aging. It is also known as cervical osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis.
Degeneration of the disc and the cartilage leads to the formation of osteophytes in the bones of the neck. These osteophytes are the abnormal growths, which lead to the narrowing of the interior of the spinal column. The condition is known as spinal stenosis, which often gives rise to symptoms of cervical spondylosis.
Many people often wonder if cervical spondylosis is a serious condition. This can be answered only after a thorough understanding of this condition. Cervical spondylosis is not a progressive disease but in severe cases, surgery can be done to correct the condition. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms can help in preventing and managing the condition. Also, there are various treatment options available that can help in effective recovery from this condition.
There are certain risk factors which increase the possibility of occurrence of cervical spondylosis. These include
Aging. As the age advances the disc in between the vertebrae becomes less spongy thus provide less cushioning. The bones and ligaments become thicker occupying the space in the spinal canal.
Poor posture. A bad posture is responsible for the development of spinal changes and increases the risk of early degeneration like cervical spondylosis.
Injury. People performing specific activities such as athletes and gymnasts are at an increased risk of developing spondylosis because of the injury.
What are the Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis?
Some of the commonest symptoms of cervical spondylosis are,
- Pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder and the arm
- A headache originating from the neck
- Cracking sounds present in the neck on movement
In severe condition cervical myelopathy might occur, making the condition a bit serious. The symptoms, in this case, would be,
- Tingling and numbness in arms, hands, and legs due nerve compression
- Muscular spasm
- Involuntary bowel and bladder movement
- Lack of coordination
Cervical radiculopathy is another serious complication in which the bony spurs press on the nerve as they exit through the spinal column. Nerve compression might also lead to a complete loss of function, which is a serious condition. At this stage, it is important to get proper treatment to avoid further complications. Thus, while cervical spondylosis is a common condition, if ignored, it can lead to serious complications.
How Can Cervical Spondylosis Be Treated?
The condition can be diagnosed with a combination of medical history of symptoms, physical examination and some investigations. Other diagnostic tests done for planning appropriate treatment include X-ray, CT scan, and MRI. How cervical spondylosis can be treated depends on the severity of the condition and possible risk of complications.
In most of the cases, conservative treatments prove to be very beneficial. The treatment plan includes,
Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants
Physical therapy which includes heat and cold application and traction in acute cases. As the condition improves flexibility and strengthening exercises can be of great help in reducing symptoms and preventing further problems.
The cervical collar which helps limit the movement
Antidepressant drugs help in reducing the pain, which sometimes does not respond to any other treatment. Cervical spondylosis can be treated with surgery in certain severe cases. Surgery is an option where there is a loss of function (which is progressing) due to the nerve pressing. It is suggested when there is muscle weakness.
In the case of cervical myelopathy which would be detected after an MRI done, the patient might benefit only from surgery. Cervical fusion is a type of surgery done to reduce the pressure on the root joints and the spinal cord.
Home Remedies For Cervical Spondylosis
There are certainly some at home solutions which can provide immense relief from neck pain. In mild cases, cervical spondylosis can be treated with the following home remedies,
Heat therapy. This can be done by applying a hot water bag or a heating pad. This helps reduce stiffness and pain in the surrounding muscles.
Cold therapy. Apply an ice pack, cold gel pack or a bag of frozen vegetable to reduce the swelling present in the cervical region.
Movement. If you observe stiffness, just get up and move around and do some stretching. Make slight neck movements to get rid of the stiff neck.
Exercise. Few exercises such as yoga, Pilates, swimming can help you stretch. You can also consult a physical therapist and follow a regular neck exercise schedule.
Bedding. Always sleep on a medium firm mattress. Use pillow enough to just slightly align the neck.
There are various other herbal and traditional treatments which can manage pain and reduce the symptoms of cervical spondylosis. It is always better to get consulted by an expert before starting with any kind of treatment.
Now, whether cervical spondylosis is a serious condition depends on the extent of the damage and complications, if any. While in most cases, cervical spondylosis can be treated and managed very well conservatively, some severe cases, may also require surgery. Nevertheless, proper care and timely treatment and physical therapy can help in preventing the condition from getting worse.