Cervical Spondylosis: It's More Than Just Back Pain & Stiffness!

Last updated 18 Apr 2019 . 1 min read

how chronic can cervical spondylosis be how chronic can cervical spondylosis be

Cervical spondylosis might sound like daunting medical jargon, but it simply relates to symptoms of pain and stiffness of the neck. In today’s day and age with jobs related to limited movements, stiffness and joint aches have become widely prevalent. Simple tips and tricks can help prevent them and also tackle any symptoms relating to cervical spondylosis.

What is Cervical Spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is a condition that affects the neck. With the constant wear and tear of the joints of the neck, pain and stiffness result overtime. In addition to changes in the joints, the disks that are present in between the vertebrae also shrink and lose their elasticity. Medically it is often referred to as osteoarthritis of the neck, as the symptoms and signs are similar to arthritis in other parts of the body.

What are the possible causes of cervical spondylosis?

The exact cause of cervical spondylosis is not completely understood. It is considered to be a multifactorial condition, where a combination of various lifestyle factors are responsible for the eventual wear and tear of the joints. Some lifestyle factors include:

  • Straining the neck
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor posture
  • Sporting injuries
  • Trauma
  • Overuse of the joint

To an extent, a genetic component might also contribute to the development of cervical spondylosis. Symptoms primarily appear when the joints injuries are significant. However, in some rare cases, significant joint injury also might not precipitate pain.

What are the symptoms of cervical spondylosis?

The symptoms of cervical spondylosis can vary from one person to the next. This is primarily due to the threshold of pain as well as the severity of the joint destruction. It is good to note that there are a few women who will not experience any pain even if their joint is severely injured.

The most common symptoms related to cervical spondylosis is pain and neck stiffness. However, there are some specific symptoms to watch out for and report to your health care practitioner.

  • Pain that is aggravated by movement
  • Pain that radiates to shoulders, back of the head and arms
  • Stiffness in the neck that prevents movement, and in some cases is irreversible
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms
  • Frequent headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness

Ideally, if you have any or a combination of the symptoms above consulting with a doctor would be ideal.

How would a doctor diagnose cervical spondylosis?

Any patient that has one or more of the symptoms listed above should consult with a physician. During your visit, your physician would ideally conduct a physical exam which will help them determine whether your symptoms require further testing.

Your physician will test the way you move your neck, assess the stiffness and also observe other movements of your limbs and the way you walk. In these cases, doctors commonly order X-rays, MRI, and CT scan to assess the underlying structures and determine possible causes of the pain the patient is experiencing.

What are the treatment options available for cervical spondylosis?

Treatment usually involves taking care of the pain and also helping you with restoring most of your movement. Medications are usually given for short term relief. The cornerstone in treatment involves supportive care and also physical therapy to restore movement.

The most common medications recommended include:

  • Painkillers: These are usually medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
  • Muscle relaxants
  • A trial of steroids: These are given on short term as they help reduce inflammation.
  • Antidepressants: On occasion women discover antidepressants on a list of medications for treatment. Antidepressants have been known to help with modulating pain.

Some simple lifestyle changes are also recommended in order to reduce the pain in the neck. These include:

  • Losing excess weight
  • Increase the amount of activity conducted during the day
  • If you have a desk job try to get up every 45 minutes, walk around and also move your neck and do some stretches.
  • Try to follow a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Consuming food that can cause inflammation can aggravate pain and also slow down the healing process.

Some exercises that can be attempted to relieve the tension in your neck includes:

  • Tilting of the neck: For this, you have to sit upright so that your spine aligned well. Then slowly move your head towards your chest, so that your chin touches your chest. Hold this for a few seconds and then return your head to its normal position. Repeat this a few times.
  • Side to side neck tilt: From a similar position, move your head in such a way that one ear moves towards the corresponding shoulder. Wait for a few seconds and move the other ear to the other shoulder. Repeat this for a few repetitions.
  • Turning of the neck: From a neutral position, slowly move your head to face your left. Wait for a few seconds then return your head to the normal position and then slowly move it to the other side. Repeat this a few times.
  • Backward tilt: Slowly from the neutral position tilt your head backward so that your neck is completely stretched. Do not go beyond your comfort zone. Hold this for a few seconds and then repeat.

(Also Checkout these Yoga Poses for Back Pain & it's other benefits)

These are some simple exercises that can be attempted several times a day, especially if you have a job that involves sitting in front of a screen. Do a few repetitions at least one to two times in a day. These simple techniques help to relieve some stiffness and reduce pain.

A movement that results in pain, shouldn’t be attempted. Pain requires medical attention. Stretching the neck further can only worsen the underlying injury to the joints in the neck.

Physical therapy will also be required for a short course of time for patients who have severe pain. Mobilization would have to be restored. A physiotherapist will massage and also manipulate the muscles in the neck to increase daily movement. This usually takes a course of a few months of repeated therapy.

On rare occasions, some types of cervical spondylosis would require surgery. For women who have progressive symptoms, pain that doesn’t subside or serious anatomical defects, physicians would often consider surgery.

Cervical spondylosis is a relatively common condition. Wear and tear of the neck joints and cervical spine often lead to the pain and stiffness observed in cervical spondylosis. It is a chronic condition which is more prominently observed in women who are in their late 40s and 50s. While it is a condition more prominent with age, certain factors like trauma and injuries can precipitate symptoms earlier.

When you begin to experience severe pain in your neck to an extent that it limits your movement, consulting with a physician is ideal. Often looking over your daily tasks can tell you what is causing the pain in your neck. An unhealthy diet, poor posture and lack of physical activity are some of the main causes of pain, in almost any joint in the body. Women who make simple lifestyle changes, like reducing weight, following a healthy diet and exercising more, tend to have a reduction in these types of condition.

However, the best course of action is always getting any discomforts checked out by a professional. Treatment in the initial phases can help prevent further damage and initiate the healing process.

Hindi Version Of This Article -

पढ़ें इस लेख को हिंदी में और जानिये - सर्वाइकल स्पांडिलाइसिस: असहनीय पीड़ा से बाधित जीवन |

Dr. Michelle Frank
Call me your unconventional doctor, who is currently treading on the road less travelled. I love all things medicine. The human body and it’s inner workings never cease to fascinate me. Helping others is what gives me unparalleled satisfaction and keeps me marching on this enlightening and fulfilling journey.

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  • M*****
    Yes ma,am thanks a lot for the artical now some say about cancer
  • M*****
    Hyy ma'am..... My father is suffering back pain since 3-4 years and dr's gave him pain killers bt it gives no remedy and this time dr suggest him to do MRI. After getting the reports they suggest him for the operation because the bone lumber 4 and lumber 5 are getting close which cause pain . And the another reason is that he is not physically fit he is retired from army and in a fight he lost his one leg (below knee) Please help me what should we do what kind of exercise he should do or what kind of meal is good for him because he don't want to do any operation....
  • S*****
    I have this condition and because of which i cannot type much.it is debilitating.
  • J*****
    Very informative. My sister in law has this and when I see her in pain, I almost cry. Don't know how she bears it.
  • S*****
    @Sajida Akram:-Homoeopathic hai mai le rahi hun #Cervical spondylitis ki Drops wali Davai
  • S*****
    This disease can only be treat by some nutrition supplements
  • R*****
    I have cervical and lumbar spondylosis. And suffering a lot.
  • P*****
    Yeah maam it is very painful. My mother n my sister has the same problem. The doctor told them that it's cervical spondylosis after diagnosis. The medicines can't be continue more than 3months. Then my question is how can a person relief from that pain after completing the medicines?
  • A*****
    Nice information..how one can contact you?
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