If you have chronic neck pain and headaches that just doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you try, you could have cervical spondylosis. If you have been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis you might be wondering what you did to cause this and how you can reverse it.
Cervical spondylosis goes by several names, including arthritis of the neck, cervical osteoarthritis, or even degenerative osteoarthritis.
These are all pretty scary names, but in a nutshell, cervical spondylosis is an age-related condition where the everyday wear and tear on the vertebrae of the neck develop small bone spurs while the discs get thinner, allowing the nerves to be pinched, often resulting in a tingling feeling in the extremities.
Simple Facts about Cervical Spondylosis
- Approximately 85 percent of those over 60 will have cervical spondylosis
- Not everyone has pain, and some have no symptoms at all
- There is no cure
- There are conservative, natural treatments that offer relief from symptoms
Is Cervical Spondylosis Serious?
Anytime we experience neck or back problems we fear that something serious and terrible is happening. While this condition can cause pain, it is rarely progressive, is often successfully treated with conservative methods and even in the most extreme cases, surgery is also very helpful.
Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms
Not everyone with cervical spondylosis experiences symptoms, but for those who do, the most common symptoms are:
- Neck pain
- Unexplained headaches
- Shoulder pain
- Pain at the base of the skull that is worse when turning the head
In more severe cases, symptoms might include:
- Dizziness, even fainting spells
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Weakness in the arms and legs
- Difficulty swallowing
This condition can usually be diagnosed with x-rays and a physical exam.
Causes of Spondylosis
The main cause of spondylosis is simply age, but there are other causes that can increase the risk of developing this condition, including:
- Herniated discs
- Dehydrated discs
- Bone spurs
- Stiff ligaments
There is also a genetic cause as this condition appears to run in certain families. This condition also appears to affect more men than women although the reason for this is not known.
It is also believed that certain activities can increase the risk of cervical spondylosis, including gymnastics, being a professional dancer, martial arts, and weight lifters.
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Can Spondylosis be Cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this age-related problem and cervical spondylosis treatments are generally mild and conservative, but extremely effective for the majority of cases.
Get control over your cervical spondylosis by practicing the following 5 simple steps.
Step #1-Physical Rehabilitation
Many people find relief from their symptoms through physical rehabilitation exercises. Your chiropractor can suggest appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises that will help to improve mobility, stretch the neck so there is less pressure on the nerves, as well as strengthen the muscles that support the head and neck.
Chances are that you don’t need to see a physical therapist since most chiropractors offer physical rehabilitation exercises or programs at their clinics. Call your local chiropractor to see if this is true of your local clinic.
Step #2-Chiropractic Massage
Massage has multiple benefits, many more than simply making you feel good. A chiropractic massage, which is done under the guidance and direction of the chiropractor, will be very beneficial for relieving the pain and stiffness that often comes with cervical spondylosis.
Massage therapy increases blood circulation, reduces swelling, and will offer some much-needed relief from painful muscle spasms. This form of therapy will also reduce inflammation and the pain it causes. For many with this condition, the muscles that are attached to the vertebra are often tight, which leads to painful spasms. Your massage therapist will work on relaxing these muscles layer by layer.
Some people wear a neck brace to help them deal with the pain and while these can be helpful for a day or two, wearing them for much longer than this causes weaker neck muscles that make spondylosis even worse.
Massage therapy can help lessen pain and muscle spasms, so you can wean yourself off of the neck brace. Also, performing physical rehab exercises as directed by your chiropractor (see Step #1) can also improve neck strength. If you feel you must wear the brace, speak to your massage therapist and/or chiropractor.
Step #3-Anti-Inflamatory Supplements
Inflammation causes pain, so limiting inflammation should be a top priority for those with this painful condition. There are many natural supplements that can reduce inflammation, however, please speak to your doctor, chiropractor, or pharmacist before consuming any supplement, regardless of how safe or natural it is advertised to be. Remember that arsenic is completely natural!
Some of the best anti-inflammatory supplements include:
- Ginger- This can be consumed as a tea or in capsules
- Curcumin-One of the most powerful and best studied anti-inflammatories known to man
- SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)-It has been suggested that SAMe is very helpful for all age-related conditions, such as cervical spondylosis
- Devil’s Claw-This is an ancient herb from south Africa that has been used to treat painful joint conditions for centuries
Some supplements can cause drug interactions or even allergic reactions, so please speak to your doctor, pharmacist, or chiropractor before consuming any supplement, especially if you are taking any type of prescription medication.
Step #4-Chiropractic Care
What is the best treatment for cervical spondylosis? Comprehensive chiropractic care! If you have been asking yourself if chiropractic can help spondylosis, you should know that this is one of the most effective treatment methods.
No, chiropractic will not cure spondylosis, but then again, nothing will. Can chiropractic help arthritis in the neck, yes it does. Chiropractic care offers substantial pain relief by applying gentle traction techniques, designed to increase the space between the discs, allowing for a release of pressure on the nerves, as well as keeping the neck vertebra in proper alignment.
If you are concerned that the chiropractor is going to whip your head around or crack it like a nut, we can tell you that these are old wives’ tales. Only the gentlest of pressure is needed to restore alignment in the neck.
Your chiropractor might also suggest other types of physical therapy modalities, such as
- Cold laser therapy
- Chiropractic massage (see step #2)
- Heat/Ice therapy
- TENS unit
- Diet/lifestyle changes
Studies have found that chiropractic care was more effective for chronic neck pain from spondylosis than drug therapy or counseling and a meta-analysis of 6 studies found that all persons who had chronic neck pain experienced less pain and improved mobility after receiving chiropractic treatment.
The good news here is that nearly everyone with cervical spondylosis responds well to regular chiropractic care to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Step #5-Home Remedies
Of course, before modern medicine, people have been treating cervical spondylosis by way of home remedies. While there often times is little or no scientific evidence to back up these treatments, none of the following remedies will hurt you if they don’t work.
Most home remedies are designed to ease pain and relieve symptoms since there is no cure for this age-related problem. Some of the more common remedies include:
- Making a paste out of Neem leaves and using it as a compress. Neem leaves are known to have anti-inflammatory compounds that might help manage pain.
- Using lavender essential oil mixed with coconut oil as part of a massage. Lavender is known to calm and soothe the body, along with having analgesic compounds which can calm muscle spasms and ease pain.
- Using diluted apple cider vinegar as a compress. This is a very old remedy that many people favor. Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory compounds that can feel soothing and reduce swelling.
- Soak in a warm bath that contains Epsom salts. Epsom salts are actually magnesium flakes which cause muscles to relax. The combination of warm water and Epsom salt can offer relief from painful muscle spasms.
- Ice packs applied to the painful areas of the neck can reduce swelling and numb the nerve endings, so they stop sending pain signals to the brain.
If you are experiencing neck pain, you should contact your local chiropractor for a complete check up and diagnosis. Early treatment can help prevent a mild case of spondylosis from becoming more painful and more severe.
We hope you found this article helpful. Please feel free to share it with others who might benefit from the information it contains.
At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, we believe that no one should be forced to live in pain. If you have no insurance but believe you need treatment, please read this article.
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About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.