For most people, growing older comes with various health issues, some of which can be quite painful and uncomfortable to live with. Degenerative diseases, in particular, affect millions of people over the age of 60, as well as some younger individuals who come from families that have a history of hereditary illnesses. Of these conditions, there are many that affect the spine, and lead to various symptoms that range from mild to severe.
One of the most common spinal disorders is cervical spondylosis which is generally caused by wear and tear or aging of the discs between vertebrae in the cervical spine. This happens because there is a lot of stress placed on the neck, right from supporting the head, to bearing the shock from jerking and twisting the head/neck. As the years go by, the discs in the cervical spine are prone to damage and/or aging, thus causing related symptoms that must be addressed sooner rather than later.
What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis, otherwise known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis, refers to any disorder or condition that involves aging, damage, or changes in the spinal discs in the neck region. These spongy discs are prone to shrinkage as they become dehydrated with age; when that happens, the reduced support and padding lead to symptoms related to neck arthritis.
A patient of cervical spondylosis may also develop osteophytes (otherwise known as bone spurs) which are extra bone growths that typically develop from the joints, and may or may not be visible beneath the skin. Overall, the progression of cervical osteoarthritis differs from individual to individual and, similarly, they display different symptoms.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
- Neck pain
- Radiating pain from the neck, down to the shoulders and arms
- Stiffness in the neck
- Lack of flexibility and mobility in the neck
- Numbness in the hands, arms, and/or shoulders
- Grinding noise or sensation with neck movements
- Weakness in legs and arms
- Poor balance
- Loss or problems with bowel and bladder control
Bear in mind that, initially, a patient of neck arthritis may not experience any symptoms; however, as the condition progresses, the pain can become chronic while other symptoms will also worsen. With that said, some elder individuals who develop cervical spondylosis may experience severe symptoms right off the bat.
It is advisable to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis if you are experiencing any symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis.
How to Treat Cervical Spondylosis
The root cause of cervical spondylosis (which is wear and tear of the spinal discs) cannot be reversed. Therefore, after a doctor has diagnosed a patient with the condition, they will proceed to treat the symptoms of cervical spondylosis instead.
The type of treatment used to alleviate symptoms varies from one diagnosis to another. For mild symptoms, basic home treatments may be advised. These include light physiotherapy, warm compression or ice packs over the affected area, and resting. Additionally, oral medication may also be advised. For pain management, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory tablets or analgesics can be effective; however, if the pain is severe, doctors typically prescribe muscle relaxants, steroids, or narcotic painkillers. As a last resort or if the symptoms cannot be managed through non-invasive therapies and treatments, surgery or spinal injections may be advised.
Surgical procedures for cervical spondylosis may include:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Intervertebral disc arthroplasty
- Intervertebral disc annuloplasty
- Anterior cervical discectomy and disk replacement
- Laminectomy and fusion
It should be noted that, if possible, surgery is generally avoided as the recovery period can be long and painful while certain procedures can also lead to complications. As an alternative to invasive treatments, many individuals get relief from symptoms of neck arthritis through chiropractic care.
How Chiropractic Helps to Treat Cervical Spondylosis
There are a number of ways in which chiropractic treatment can relieve painful and uncomfortable symptoms that are experienced by patients of cervical osteoarthritis. Right from alleviating pressure on nerves in the cervical spine, to increasing neck mobility and flexibility; these effects come with their own sets of benefits which include relief from pain, stiffness, numbness, and so on.
Some of the most effective chiropractic treatments used to treat cervical spondylosis are:
- Chiropractic Adjustments: The purpose of chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation is to realign the spine. In doing so, the spinal discs are able to sit between vertebrae properly while the muscles in the back and neck also become more relaxed.
- Spinal Mobilisation: This is a more gentle approach chiropractors use to effectively stretch the spine, thereby reducing stress and tension in the spinal column.
- Spinal Traction: Performed mechanically or manually, spinal traction relieves tension in the vertebrae by way of gentle pulls and decompression.
- Massages: As a follow-up therapy to other chiropractic treatments, massages are intended to relax neck and back muscles to help the spine and body recover faster. It also increases blood flow in the affected areas, and relaxes the mind.
Your chiropractor may also recommend other forms of therapy and treatment that are proven to treat cervical spondylosis symptoms. These include electrical nerve stimulation, trigger point therapy, and ultrasound therapy. In some cases, diet and lifestyle changes may also be advised, along with gentle stretching exercises, hot or cold compress, and rest.
To consult with a licenced and experienced chiropractor for treatment of cervical spondylosis, schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare professionals at MSK Therapy today! We offer chiropractic care and related therapies to successfully treat symptoms of neck arthritis and various other spinal disorders and degenerative diseases.