Everything has a shelf life and so does our body. To last the shelf life, our body needs to be taken care of. This care may be supplied in the form of nutritious food, adequate exercise etc. Here I have listed the best home remedies for cervical spondylosis. Nature has its own way of coming up with some or the other health issue. Besides this, our body goes through severe wear and tear due to our daily routine and regular activities. Both physically as well as mentally. Therefore, our body needs a lot more care in order to keep performing and keep going.
In the case of babies and small children, there is a continuous deposition of calcium in their bones. Thus making their bones hard and strong. This process is termed as ossification. On the other hand, after the age of 45 to 50, the bones start losing calcium. Hence the bones become brittle and this process is called osteoporosis. Loss of bone strength, in turn, leads to a loss of muscle tone. This makes it very difficult to carry out all the physically demanding tasks. Besides this, it is also taxing on the body. Further, the cartilage naturally deteriorates, which in turn can cause soreness. Also, the smooth tissue that cushions the joints and helps them move more easily disappears with age.
Moreover, the body’s natural shock absorbents also wear out. This is the reason why aged people experience mild soreness and aching. Especially, when they stand, climb the stairs or exercise. Furthermore, as you age, the body doesn’t recover as quickly as it would when you were young. Cartilages are responsible for cushioning the joints and help them move smoothly and easily. A membrane called synovium produces a thick fluid that helps to keep cartilages healthy. With age, the synovium becomes thick as wear and tear occur on the cartilage. This mostly leads to inflammation and results in swelling.
Health issues such as poor digestion, difficulty in breathing and poor mobility occur as you age. In addition to these, the body also loses its flexibility leading to a stiff neck. The spinal discs in the cervical spine also begin to get affected. This is commonly known as cervical spondylosis.
Often, people tend to confuse cervical spondylosis with cervical spondylitis. Although there’s neck pain and the spine is affected in both the cases, both are different from each other. Below lie the major differences as well as the similarities between both.
Cervical Spondylosis Vs Cervical Spondylitis
Let us first understand what is cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylitis. And then see the similarities and differences between the two.
Firstly, ”Spondyl” means vertebrae and ”osis” means abnormal state. Spondylosis is a general term for this age-related wear and tear disease. This disease affects the spinal discs that are present in the cervical spine in the neck. Spondylosis is also known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis. In this disease, the intervertebral disc which acts as a cushion between two vertebrae gets damaged. This is usually due to age but can be due to other reasons.
As disc degeneration occurs, people tend to experience restrictions while moving the neck. Also, the edges of the vertebrae get damaged. All this increases the pressure on the nerves originating from cervical vertebrae. With advancing age, the bones and ligaments in the spine wear out leading to bone spurs (osteoarthritis). Some people facing neck pain have ”non-specific” (simple) neck pain. In this case, the symptoms are on a postural or mechanical basis. When mechanical factors are prominent, the condition is often referred to as ‘cervical spondylosis’.
Although the term is often applied to all non-specific neck pain. The mechanical and degenerative factors are more likely to be present in chronic neck pain. A very important thing to note is that some people who have this disorder may never experience symptoms. On the other hand, it can cause chronic pain, muscle spasms and stiffness for the others. However many people facing it are able to conduct normal daily activities.
“Spondyl” means vertebrae i.e the bones of the spine and “itis” means inflammation. Spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects your spine and/or pelvis. Besides this, it causes inflammatory back pain and stiffness. Over time, the inflammation can lead to new bone formation in the spine. This new bone formation, in turn, causes sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed immobile position. The hallmark feature of this disorder is the involvement of the sacroiliac joints during the progress of the disease. The sacroiliac joints are located at the base of the spine, where the spine joins the pelvis.
Although both the names are similar. Cervical spondylitis and cervical spondylosis are 2 different conditions with some similarities and some important differences. I understand that it’s easy to get confused with both the conditions since they sound similar and share many symptoms.
Similarities Between Cervical Spondylosis & Cervical Spondylitis
The first similarity between cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylitis are that they cause chronic back pain, hip pain and stiffness. These 3 types of pain can diminish the range of motion and cause trouble in walking. Besides this, cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylitis share symptoms that include bowel or bladder problems. And also neuropathy i.e a numbness and tingling sensation) in the extremities. Diagnosis in both cases involves imaging scans and physical examination for pain and range of motion. There is no cure for either of them but treatment is available to help relieve the symptoms. The victim can obtain a lot of relief by self-help.
Differences Between Cervical Spondylosis and Cervical Spondylitis
- First and foremost, Cervical Spondylosis is a very common health issue nowadays. More than 85% of people who are 60 years of age and above suffer from it.
- Further, it’s caused by the wear and tear of cartilages and bones. That may be exacerbated by previous injuries. Usually, it develops between the age of 50 and 60.
- It is a degenerative condition and a part of the ageing process. Symptoms are a pain at the back of the neck, pain in the shoulders and arms. This leads to a stiff neck, difficulty in lifting the arm or grasping something firmly. Headache occurs mostly at the back of the head.
- Moreover, the individual feels dizzy and loses body balance. However, there’s no need to do a blood test to confirm the disease.
- There’s no medication for improving the immune system (increasing immunity)- such medicine will not help.
- Cervical Spondylitis is a fairly rare disease occurring in only 1 or 2% of the population.
- Generally, it develops before the age of 45.
- Cervical Spondylitis is caused by inflammation related to an overactive immune system.
- In other words, it’s an inflammatory condition caused by the immune system that attacks the joints and other tissues.
- Symptoms include stiffness and lower back pain. The pain may be sporadic and range in severity. Further, these symptoms can progress into the upper spine. In addition to these, the other symptoms may be a loss of flexibility and blurred vision.
- In order to confirm the disease, you need to do a blood test.
- Special medication is given to modify the immune system.
Both, cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylitis don’t have a cure. But it’s always better to take care rather than worsening the condition. At most, you can take care of your bones, muscles, cartilages and ligaments. Besides this, some home remedies or precautions for cervical spondylosis help you manage the condition. Ensure you read everything below.
First and foremost, you need to eat what’s right. Following a healthy diet is essential for the joints as it helps build strong bones and muscles. Moreover, it helps boost the immune system.
- For your bones, ensure you consume enough calcium every day. In the form of milk, yoghurt, and broccoli.
- Avoid very low-calorie diet as this can reduce bone density.
- Include foods that are high in magnesium and zinc as they help in maintaining bone density during ageing. Thus, you should consume foods such as lentils, whole wheat, avocado, eggs, chickpeas. In addition to this, you should eat meat, shellfish, beans, whole grains, nuts, and dairy.
- Also, foods high in Omega-3 fats protect bone loss in older adults. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, albacore, walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil. Other foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids include shrimps, light chunk tuna, spinach and catfish.
- For your muscles, you need to consume sufficient protein. Such as lean meat, seafood, beans, legumes and nuts.
- Furthermore, you also need Vitamin D and Vitamin K to keep your bones and joints in good health. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium from the food you eat. Foods high in Vitamin D include cheese, beef liver, egg yolks, dairy products, orange juice. Besides this, Vitamin D is present in cereals, fatty fish like tuna, mackerels, and salmons.
- Vitamin K is found in vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Besides this, fish, liver, meat, eggs and cereals contain Vitamin K.
- Additionally, oranges also give your joints a healthy boost. As a matter of fact, Vitamin C and other antioxidants can help to keep your joints healthy.
- Citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, almonds, turmeric, papaya, sunflower seeds and shellfish. These are known to act as immune system boosters.
- Drink plenty of fluids. You need to consume 10-12 glasses of water per day. It’s necessary, not a choice. Also, limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks per day for men. And 1 per day for women. As a matter of fact, alcohol can contribute to weaker bones.
- Avoid high fat and high cholesterol foods because they promote inflammation in the body. Ensure you don’t eat too much of dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat milk. Also, avoid eating excess fatty beef, lamb and pork.
Watch your Weight
Maintaining your weight within a healthy range is one of the best things you can do for your joints. The back, hips, and knees are weight-bearing joints i.e they bear most of your body weight. They have to support some weight if not all of your body weight. Research has proved that. With every pound of weight gained, a person puts 4 times more stress on the knees. Hence, it’s essential to maintain a healthy weight. There exists a traditional ideal weight calculation. It is essentially a rule of thumb and is as follows:
Ideal body weight in kg = 49 kg + 1.7 kg for every inch over 5 feet.
Ideal body weight = 52 kg + 1.9 kg for every inch over 5 feet.
Maintain Good Posture
A good posture enables the ideal alignment of bones and joints. Besides this, it keeps the back straight and aligns the spine in its ideal position. This, in turn, enables the muscles to function properly and not get strained. Further, it also decreases the stress on ligaments and prevents muscle and joint fatigue. Although we have 3 types of muscles in our body, the skeletal muscles are the only muscles that can be consciously controlled.
Most of the skeletal muscles are attached to two bones across a joint. The muscle contraction moves parts of those bones closer to each other. Skeletal muscles are responsible for keeping the body in the correct position while you sit or stand. Good posture relies on strong and flexible muscles. On the contrary, stiff, weak or light muscles contribute to poor posture and misalignment of the body. Long term bad posture leads to joint and muscle pain in the shoulders, back, neck and elsewhere.
Posture while Lifting and Carrying any Object
- Firstly, while lifting anything, ensure you use the biggest muscles in your body. So, bend your knees instead of bending your back.
- Secondly, while carrying a backpack, be sure to put it over both shoulders instead of slinging it over one. Since being lop-sided puts more stress on your joints.
- Make use of spinner suitcases with light-weight 4 wheels for effortless mobility. Spinner suitcases also don’t exert that much stress on your shoulders and back, unlike roller suitcases. Additionally, they require much less effort to move as they wheel along beside you. Rather than being dragged. Moreover, they can be pushed in front of you. Always remember that pushing is always easier than pulling.
Posture while Working in Office
Most of us work with laptops today. Unfortunately, the laptop’s design makes the user continuously focus on the screen with the neck bent. This, in turn, contributes to cervical spondylosis down the line. The most crucial thing to note is that your laptop screen should be at your eye level. If you do this then you won’t have to bend your neck continuously. This can be achieved by purchasing popular laptop stands which elevate the laptop to eye level. However, you might have to purchase an external keyboard.
Furthermore, keep the following points in mind, if you want to avoid fatigue.
- Don’t slouch as it puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. You should, therefore, move your chair as close as possible to your work desk, in order to avoid leaning.
- Besides this, your feet shouldn’t be dangling when you are seated. In case your feet aren’t reaching the floor comfortably then use a footrest or lower the keyboard and the chair. Do this even if there’s a pressure on the back of your legs.
- Ensure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, then your neck and shoulder muscles will hurt by the end of the day. Due to the strain exerted on them.
- Watch your head position – Don’t crane your head and neck forward.
Posture while Sleeping
Normally, you spend 1/3rd of your day sleeping. Therefore, maintaining a good posture while sleeping is very crucial. The best sleeping position for cervical spondylosis and other types of neck pain is on your back or your side. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it strains the neck.
Use a medium-firm mattress and ensure it can mould to the shape of your spine. A perfect mattress is one that keeps your spine straight when you lie on your side. Additionally, it should allow your spine to form an S curve when you lie on your back.
Nowadays, memory foam mattresses are available. These anti-bedsore materials prevent excessive pressure on the neck. They also reduce the onset of cervical spondylitis pain. Additionally, they improve blood circulation and joint mobility.
Elevating your neck can distort your spine and lead to joint pain. Therefore, the best option is to sleep without a pillow. But if that doesn’t work for you, then try purchasing a slim pillow or using a folded towel. Avoid using a pillow that is too stiff or too high. As it will keep the neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness. If you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a pillow that’s higher under your neck than your head. In general, you should also avoid tucking a pillow under your back or legs. Some suitable pillows for avoiding neck pain are available in the market.
- Try using a feather pillow as it easily conforms to the shape of the neck. However, feather pillows collapse over time and should be replaced every year. But it’s worth buying as it conforms to the shape of the neck.
- Additionally, memory foam pillows help foster proper spinal alignment.
- A horseshoe-shaped pillow supports your neck and prevents your head from dropping to one side if you doze. Thus it is very useful when you are travelling by flight or car.
- The cervical pillow enables the neck to be in a hyper-extended position. It relaxes the neck muscles that generally get strained due to our day to day activities.
Movement and Exercises
The more you sit, the stiffer you feel. Hence, you should get up from your place after regular intervals and move around. You should also stretch and try taking a walk in between. If you work for 8 to 9 hours a day (desk job), then get up and move every 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Low impact exercises can elevate the heart rate without jarring the spine and worsening back pain. Some low-impact exercises are walking, stationary bicycling and swimming. Swimming is beneficial because it is easy on the joints. Gentle exercise programs such as yoga and pilates are also good because they incorporate stretching & strengthening. Exercises with weight can help in building muscle which supports joints. Always ask your physical therapist to determine the best exercise for you.
An important component of an exercise program is aerobics. It elevates the heart rate and improves the circulation of blood. Additionally, aerobic exercises can help relieve back pain by decreasing stiffness. Furthermore, it improves blood flow to the spinal structure and increases the number of nutrients reaching the spine. Note that if any exercise increases your neck pain, then you must immediately stop it.
Exercises for relieving neck pain
An important precaution: Always workout smoothly and gently through out while performing each exercise. Avoid sudden movements which could hurt even more.
- Stand or sit straight. Bring your head forward very slowly until your chin touches your chest. Stay in this position for 10 seconds. Then, return to your starting position. Now lean your head slightly back and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times in each direction.
- Sit or stand straight. Slowly turn your head to the right, keeping your chin straight. Stay in this position for 10 seconds. Return to centre. Slowly turn your head to the left and stay for 10 seconds. Return to centre. Repeat 5 times on each side.
- Place your palms at the base of your head and apply light forward pressure. Meet the resistance with your head and neck.
- Sit erect with your head in a neutral position. Place your palms above the ear. Apply light pressure with the hand and meet the resistance with the head.
- Take right ear towards right shoulder until a stretch is felt on the left side. Add to stretch by adding little pressure from the right hand and ensuring the left shoulder is kept down. Just a gentle stretch should be felt. Repeat on the opposite side. Hold for 15 seconds for each side.
Benefits of neck exercises: Poor posture may lead to chronic or recurrent neck pain that can also be accompanied by stiff joints, upper back pain, shoulder blade pain and headaches. The above neck exercise program may be able to address most of these symptoms.
Other Regular Exercises for Neck & Shoulder Well Being
- Firstly, stand with your arms straight by your sides. Rotate both the shoulders simultaneously clockwise and anti-clockwise five times each.
- Keep your arms stretched in front of you. With thumbs clasped inside your fist, rotate both your fists simultaneously. First clockwise and then anti-clockwise five times each.
- Yoga postures such as Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Matsyasana (fish pose) and Dhanurasana (bow pose) are extremely beneficial for cervical problems.
Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to the affected area to reduce stiffness and pain. You may use moist heat or dry heat. Further, a warm bath may also help, especially before exercise.
Caution – Don’t use heat therapy without consulting your Doctor. If you have diabetes, deep vein thrombosis, vascular disease, an open wound or a skin condition such as dermatitis
Apply an ice pack, cold gel pack or a bag of frozen vegetables to painful joints. This reduces swelling. Cold therapy also helps in reducing inflammation after exercise. Don’t apply ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Caution: Don’t use cold therapy without consulting your Doctor if you have circulatory problems.
Acupuncture is an ancient remedy for pain. It involves the insertion of needles into specific points on your skin. This, in turn, activates the body’s pain-relieving hormones.
Acupressure is also an ancient remedy for pain. It involves applying pressure on specific points of the body to get relief.
Only a well-trained physiotherapist should carry out cervical traction in order to achieve the best results. The traction of the spine is known as cervical traction. It is a popular treatment for neck pain and related injuries.
Firstly, massage helps you to relax as it soothes the body and calms the mind. Secondly, it makes you feel more flexible so that you can exercise or stretch. Additionally, it may also help improve flexibility due to increased blood circulation. Besides this, it provides a little more mobility and relief from pain. Massage may cause pain at tender points around your spine. If this happens, avoid those areas and only use light massage techniques until the pain improves. Always consult your doctor to find out whether massage is safe for you and which technique may work best.
Different people respond to different types of massages. Hence, it is important to find out which is best for you. The therapist should massage over the muscle and not the joint. Besides this, if you face any sort of pain. Then you must immediately inform the therapist who will make the necessary alteration. Some people experience immediate relief after a massage. For others, it may take a little longer to get relief. Special massagers for neck and shoulders are available so that you can self-massage yourself at home. That too without anyone’s help.
Essential oils for massage
According to Ayurveda, essential oils contain various natural healing properties. Therefore, these are one of the best home remedies for cervical spondylosis. They work efficiently in stopping the pain in spinal areas without any risk. Due to its therapeutic benefits, people suffering from cervical spondylosis find it very beneficial. They can offer long term, natural as well as an efficient solution to your nerve pain and spinal problems. Some of the benefits of using essential oils are:
- Firstly, it helps in quick healing as compared to other treatment methods.
- Secondly, its anti-analgesic property helps to relieve and reduce the pain faster.
- Lastly, its anti-inflammatory property makes it more suitable for almost any age group.
Not all the alternative treatments are right for everyone with cervical problems. The ones that work for you may not work for others. Some people may have success with cold therapy while others may get relief from massage. You should try these home remedies for cervical spondylosis and other cervical problems to see which suit you better.
Some dont’s if you are already suffering from cervical spondylosis:
- Avoid sitting for a prolonged time in one position.
- Do not drive for extended periods.
- Avoid bad roads if travelling by bike or 4 wheeler.
- While getting up from bed, first turn to one side and then get up.
- Avoid lifting heavy weight objects on the head.
- Move your feet first when you turn around, and then twist your body or head while you turn around.
- Avoid sleeping on a soft mattress.
- When using a computer/laptop, take a break every half hour.
- Avoid using thick pillows.
- Don’t run too much or do strenuous exercises.
- Avoid forward bending movement in front of you. When working on computer put it on a pedestal so that it is at your eye level.
- Avoid smoking.