What Is Cervical Spondylitis?
Cervical spondylitis occurs due to the degeneration (wear and tear on account of aging) of the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and ligaments in the neck or cervical spine. Nowadays, using computers and smartphones for a long time is one of the most common causes of cervical spondylitis in young people.
Cervical spondylitis is also known as arthritis of the neck, degenerative osteoarthritis, or cervical osteoarthritis.
The cervical spine starts at the base of the skull bone. Cervical spine (neck) consists of seven vertebrae (bones). Intervertebral discs separate these vertebrae. Intervertebral discs contain a gel-like substance which functions as a cushion between the vertebrae. Various muscles and ligaments are attached to the vertebrae that help in the smooth movement of vertebrae.
Nerves from the spinal cord pass through the vertebrae and reach your shoulders, neck, arms, and upper chest. Cervical spine stabilizes the neck and allows the smooth movements of your neck from side-to-side, forwards, and backward. The function of the cervical spine is like a shock absorber, and it helps in maintaining body posture. Over a period, as your age advances, this natural shock absorber starts to degenerate.
In cervical spondylitis, the intervertebral discs get thinner, dehydrated, and lose their ability to absorb a shock. The edges of the vertebrae develop bone spurs known as osteophytes.
Initially, the patients may not experience symptoms at all, while a few may experience pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, and hands. These symptoms occur due to the inflammation of soft tissues and ligaments between the vertebrae and due to the formation of osteophytes.
Later, these changes can put pressure on nearby nerve roots resulting in pain, tingling sensation, or numbness in the upper extremities.
The degeneration of vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and abnormal growth (osteophytes), later, can cause narrowing of the spinal column (opening where spinal nerves exit) leading to a condition called cervical spinal stenosis or spinal canal stenosis.
Homeopathic Treatment For Cervical Spondylitis:
Homeopathy is highly recommended in chronic diseases like cervical spondylitis. An individualized approach in homeopathy is highly effective in treating cervical spondylitis and that too without any side-effects.
How homeopathy can help in Cervical Spondylitis?
- Homeopathy provides you effective relief in pain and stiffness of the cervical spine.
- Homeopathic medicines reduce the inflammation of the disc and ligaments.
- Hence, homeopathy improves the mobility of your neck and hands.
- If a patient has nerve root compression, regular use of homeopathic medicines shows improvement in the relief from tingling sensation and numbness.
- Homeopathic medicines are deep-acting and, hence, they control the further process of degeneration. Homeopathy controls the progression of the disease and prevents further destruction of the disc and vertebrae to some extent.
- Gradually, homeopathy reduces the need for painkillers. Eventually, you can stop taking painkillers.
- Homeopathy is safe, non-toxic, and non-habit-forming even when taken for a long duration.
- If augmented with physiotherapy, yoga, and other measures, homeopathy shows excellent results in cervical spondylitis.
Duration Of Treatment:
Many patients experience symptomatic relief in cervical spondylitis in the initial four to six weeks. The total duration of treatment depends on various factors like:
- The extent and progress of the disease: Intensity of inflammation, degeneration, and compression.
- The duration of suffering.
- Age of the patient.
- The general health of the patient.
- Occupation and lifestyle of the patient.
- Any other underlying medical condition.
What are the chances of recovery in cervical spondylitis with homeopathy?
- Excellent result: In early and mild cases of cervical spondylitis, one may find a quick and excellent result. The patients of younger age group or youths respond well to homeopathic treatment.
- Good result: Good results are observed in moderate to severe cases of cervical spondylitis.
- Not so good result: Very severe and very old cases may not show good results. A few severe cases may not respond at all.
Commonly prescribed homeopathic medicines in cervical spondylitis
Some of the commonly prescribed homeopathic medicines for cervical spondylitis are Lachnanthes Tinctoria, Kali Carb, Silicia, Phosphoric Acid, Paris Quadrifolia, Kalmia Latifolia, Causticum, etc.
What happens in cervical spondylitis? (Pathogenesis)
'Spondylo' is a Greek word which means vertebra. Spondylitis means the inflammation of vertebrae.
In many people after the age of 35-40 years, as a part of age-related wear and tear, the intervertebral discs become less elastic and more compressible. The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae. Vertebrae have discs between them. Discs are thick, cushions (like a pad), and its function is to absorb the shock during various activities that involve the spine, such as lifting, twisting, etc. The gel-like material inside these discs may dry out over a period, as the age advances. As a result, the disc no longer functions like a cushion and the vertebrae may rub together during activities.
As the degeneration progresses, the deposition of minerals begins in the intervertebral disc resulting in secondary changes. Discs may degenerate further, thereby leading to herniation of discs.
Further, due to disc degeneration, vertebrae may produce an extra part of the bone to strengthen the spine. This extra growth is known as osteophytes or a bony spur.
Ligaments, which connect bone-to-bone (vertebrae), get stiff due to the inflammation leading to reduced flexibility of the neck.
Many people, after the age of 40 years, show significant radiological changes in their spine as mentioned above, but only a few of them develop symptoms of cervical spondylitis. Sometimes these degenerative changes in the cervical spine can be visible on the X-ray as early as in the 30s, but the patient may not experience any symptoms.
The above changes may cause the compression and irritation of the nerve roots of the spine leading to radiculopathy causing symptoms, such as pain, numbness, and the weakness in extremities.
In some patients, the compression of the spinal cord results in cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) due to the spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). This may result in a loss of movements and sensation in the upper extremities.
Prevalence Of Cervical Spondylitis:
Most people experience degenerative changes in the spine as they get older. More than 85% of people after the age of 60 years suffer from cervical spondylitis.
Many people after the age of 40 years show significant radiological changes in their spine but only a small percentage of them develop symptoms of cervical spondylitis.
Causes Of Cervical Spondylitis:
Cervical spondylitis occurs due to a long-term degeneration (wear-and-tear) of the cervical spine. Degeneration results in dehydration and thinning of the intervertebral disc, disc herniation, and the formation of osteophytes (bony spur).
Various factors may increase the risk of cervical spondylitis:
- Age: An advancing age is a major factor for the development of cervical spondylitis. Cervical spondylitis is more commonly observed after the age of 40 years.
- Neck injuries: A history of a neck injury may increase the risk for the development of cervical spondylitis.
- Occupation: Work-related repetitive activities involving neck might put stress on the cervical spine. Individuals performing activities or professions, such as prolonged use of a computer, bike users, drivers, professional dancers or gymnasts, and occupations demanding constant bending of the neck, are at a high risk of experiencing changes in their cervical spine.
- Poor posture: Watching TV in abnormal positions, holding phone or mobile on the shoulder, stooping of shoulder while sitting or walking, and sleeping in sitting position while traveling long distances may put stress on your cervical spine.
- Genetics: Cervical spondylitis or the tendency of degeneration of the bones may run in the families.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Tendency of putting on weight, obesity, or lack of exercises may lead to cervical spondylitis.
- Smoking: Smoking can be one of the risk factors for early degeneration and development of cervical spondylitis.
Symptoms Of Cervical Spondylitis:
Commonly presenting symptoms of cervical spondylitis are listed here.
- Pain in the cervical spine or neck: Many patients present with pain in their neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. A few patients may complain of headache in the occipital region (the base of the skull). This pain may increase on performing activities, such as moving the neck, sitting for a long in one position, bending the neck backward, performing movements involving shoulders, etc.
- Stiffness: Stiffness is one of the common presenting symptoms along with neck pain. Stiffness in the neck may aggravate after prolonged inactivity of the neck. Stiffness may limit complete bending or movement of the neck. This may interfere with the daily routine of the patient.
- Weakness in muscles: One may experience muscle weakness while lifting the object with hand or grasping the object firmly.
- Radiculopathy: When osteophytes put pressure on the nerve root, it may result in radiating or shooting pain from the neck or shoulder towards the arms, forearms, hands, and fingers.
- Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy: When in cervical spondylitis, due to degenerative changes, there occurs the spinal canal narrowing and pressure on the spinal cord (cervical stenosis), the condition called cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Symptoms of cervical spondylosis with myelopathy are:
- Tingling and numbness in the arms, hands, and fingers
- Weakness in the hands and fingers
- A lack of coordination
- Muscle spasms
Diagnosis Of Cervical Spondylitis:
A physician does clinical evaluation by considering the detailed case history and physical examination. Physical examination may include examining the range of motion of the cervical spine, checking reflexes, muscle strength, gait, posture, etc.
Imaging study helps to confirm the diagnosis and treatment.
- Cervical spine X-ray: X-ray can reveal findings, such as bone spurs, space between the vertebrae, position of discs, etc. that indicate cervical spondylitis.
- CT scan of the cervical spine: A CT scan can provide detailed imaging of vertebrae and intervertebral disc.
- MRI spine: MRI can help in diagnosing the extent of damage or compression of the nerves.
- Myelography: In this test, a tracer dye is injected into the spinal canal to get detailed X-ray or CT imaging.
Nerve function tests:
- Electromyography: Electromyography measures electrical activity in the nerves.
- Nerve conduction study: This test measures the strength and speed of the nerve signals.
Supportive Treatment (Diet, Lifestyle and Exercises) For Cervical Spondylitis:
Exercise regularly to maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the neck.
Avoid exercises, such as running, high-impact aerobics. Do not lift heavy weight if you have acute neck pain.
While holding the neck in one position for a long period while driving, watching TV, or working on a computer, prefer to take a break.
Do not hold your neck in a bent position for more than 10 minutes, when you are reading, watching TV, looking at a smartphone, or working on a computer.
Set your workstation in such a way that your computer screen is at eye level and your feet are supported on the floor.
Keep your smartphone to eye level to avoid neck strain.
Use a thin pillow and sleep on a firm mattress
Do not lie flat on your stomach.
Do not use many pillows while sleeping.
Turn on one side while getting up from the lying down position.
Do not twist your neck or the body while turning around; instead, turn around by moving your feet first.
Maintain a good posture while standing, sitting, or walking.
Avoid sitting, working, or standing for a prolonged period in stressful postures.
Use a Bluetooth or hands-free earphone to make calls.
Avoid the habit of holding the telephone or mobile on one shoulder and leaning at it for a long time.
Use a seatbelt and firm collar while traveling.
Avoid bad roads while traveling by two or four-wheelers.
Do not drive for long hours, take a break in between.
Use a backpack which distributes weight equally on both the shoulders.
Avoid lifting heavy weights on head or back. Do not use a heavy purse or briefcase on one shoulder & tilting the spine.
Practice physiotherapy under the guidance of an expert.
Apply hot fomentation or ice pack on your neck to get relief from the pain.
Do not undergo spinal manipulations, such as vigorous massage, if you are experiencing acute pain.
Practice yoga, which may help to relieve and prevent neck pain.
Do not practice yoga without consulting an expert.
Conventional Treatment For Cervical Spondylitis:
Conventional treatment for cervical spondylitis is usually prescribing medicine to relieve the pain and stiffness and to improve the range of motion. Commonly prescribed medicines are
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-seizure drugs
It is difficult to take painkillers and other conventional medicines for a long time due to their side-effects.
Our Experience In Treating Cervical Spondylitis At Life Force:
Dr. Rajesh Shah has been working on the treatment protocol for various chronic diseases including Cervical Spondylitis since last more than 30 years. Patients from over 180 countries all across the globe have been benefitted from Dr. Shah’s research-based medicines. Dr. Shah's homeopathic treatment protocol for chronic painful conditions have changed the lives of many patients by improving their quality of life. As per our experience at Life Force, while treating cervical spondylitis, it is observed that homeopathy is highly effective in relieving pain, stiffness, tingling, numbness and other symptoms. Homeopathic medicines not only give relief in symptoms but it also prevents the further progress of the disease. In many patients of cervical spondylitis, regular homeopathic treatment may reduce the need for painkillers. Some patients are completely out of the vicious cycle of painkillers. Homeopathic treatment in combination with physiotherapy and other supportive measures works wonderfully in treating cervical spondylitis.