Cervical spondylitis and lumbar spondylosis are the two very common forms of spondylitis. Cervical spondylitis occurs when the cartilage, bones, ligaments, and bones in your neck begin to wear and tear with age or without age. In the olden days, cervical spondylitis and spondylosis were associated with old age. But with the present generation and the current lifestyle, spondylitis and spondylosis are not restricted to any age group.
What is Cervical Spondylitis?
Cervical spondylitis or spondylosis is also known as cervical osteoarthritis or degenerative osteoarthritis. With age and time, the symptoms increase. Without proper and timely treatment, cervical spondylitis might make even walking difficult.
The occurrence of cervical spondylosis is more in elderly people. With age, our bones and ligaments begin to lose their normal strength. Cervical spondylosis affects the neck and makes movement stiff. The disc of the neck slowly breaks down, leading to fluid loss. With the fluid loss, the discs begin to rub against each other. This causes cervical pain and stiffness.
With the further degeneration of the discs and fluid loss, abnormal growths called spurs or osteophytes form in the bones of the neck. Osteophytes lead to narrowing of the spinal column leading to spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis generally occurs in older adults when the spinal canal narrows, leading to cervical pain.
Symptoms of cervical spondylosis
The symptoms of cervical spondylitis are mentioned below:
- Neck Pain: Cervical spondylosis leads to neck pain that can travel to your arms or shoulders. There is a tingling pain in the beginning which can worsen if left untreated. Cervical pain can increase standing, sneezing, sitting, coughing, or tilting the neck backward. This is the most common symptom of cervical spondylitis.
- Muscle Weakness: Cervical spondylosis can lead to muscle weakness. The muscles become so weak and stiff that it becomes difficult to lift the arms or grasp something properly.
- Headaches. A stiff neck can lead to headaches. The headaches will mostly occur at the back of your head.
- Numbness: There are tingling and numbness mainly in the arm and shoulders. In many cases, tingling can travel down to the legs. Tingling can be accompanied by numbness if the disease is left untreated.
- Loss of Balance: Since the bones begin to lose strength, you might suffer from loss of balance and difficulty in walking.
- Loss of Bladder Control: In rare cases, cervical spondylosis can lead to loss of bladder and bowel control. If you face such a problem, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Complications or risk factors
Various risk factors associated with spondylosis are:
- Spinal stenosis: If you leave cervical spondylosis untreated for a very long time, you may suffer from spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis or cervical myelopathy is a painful condition when the spinal canal becomes narrow. The spinal cord can be severely damaged if it gradually narrows down. You may experience a tingling sensation in the neck, arms, and shoulders which may travel down to the legs. In extreme cases, you may also find it difficult to coordinate movement. Cervical spondylitis can also lead to lumbar spondylosis.
- Nerve compression: When you suffer from cervical spondylosis, constant pressure is exerted on the spinal nerves. You may suffer from a condition called spinal radiculopathy. Cervical radiculopathy causes numbness and tingling in the hands, legs, and shoulders. You may also experience loss of body coordination. In acute cases, you may suffer from extreme shoulder and chest pain. Nerve compression leads to loss of normal muscle contraction.
- Permanent disability: The symptoms of cervical spondylitis, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage to your spinal cord. Cervical myelopathy and cervical radiculopathy may become acute. Day to day work becomes difficult, and surgery becomes the only solution.
Your doctor may prescribe various treatments like:
- Physical therapy: Your doctor might suggest you visit a therapist. A physical therapist will help you stretch your muscles and neck. Physical therapy also includes neck traction. Neck traction helps increase the space in between the cervical joints by using weights. Physical therapy will provide relief from pain.
- Medication: To treat cervical spondylosis, your doctor might prescribe certain medications. Medicines include muscle relaxants like Cyclobenzaprine, narcotics like Hydrocodone, anti-epileptic drugs like Gabapentin, steroid injections like Prednisone, and anti-inflammatory drugs like Diclofenac.
- Surgery: Surgery is the last option in cases of cervical spondylosis. Your doctor might suggest surgery when medicines and physical therapy cannot give you relief. Surgery will involve the removal of bone spurs, herniated disc, and certain portions of the neck bones. Surgery will create more space in between the disc and nerves.
Taking precautions is of utmost importance. Some simple precautions are:
- You should not forget to follow the doctor’s advice and treatment plan.
- You must keep your posture straight. You should keep the neck and spine straight while sitting and standing.
- You should exercise regularly but as advised by the doctor.
- You should maintain healthy body weight by eating healthy.
- You should learn to lift correctly without putting pressure on your neck, arms, and shoulders.
Simple dietary changes that you can make are:
- You should include omega-three fatty acid and vitamin E rich food in your diet. You should eat more nuts, oilseeds, and fish, which can combat joint inflammation.
- You should include leafy green vegetables in your daily diet.
- You should avoid acid building food items like fried foods, excessive meat, and oily foods.
- You should avoid sweets, confectionaries, and refined food items.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the best treatment for cervical spondylosis?
Ans: Your doctor will treat cervical spondylosis depending on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, or anti-seizure medicines. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. If situations worsen, your doctor might consider doing surgery.
2. Is walking good for spondylosis?
Ans: Yes, walking is good for spondylosis. Begin with 5-10 minutes of walking and gradually increase to 30 minutes. You should try to start walking when the pain is under control with medications.
3. What happens if spondylosis is not treated?
Ans: if you do not treat spondylosis, the spinal cord or nerve roots may become severely compressed. Nerve compression can cause permanent damage to your spinal cord.
4. What food is good for spondylosis?
Ans: Fruit and vegetables, nuts, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E rich foods, and whole grains are good for spondylosis.