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Cervical Spondylosis

Bhagwati Ayurveda & Panchkarma / Cervical Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a broad term meaning degeneration of the spinal column from any cause. In the more narrow sense it refers to spinal osteoarthritis, the age-related wear and tear of the spinal column, which is the most common cause of spondylosis. The degenerative process in osteoarthritis chiefly affects the vertebral bodies, the neural foramina and the facet joints (facet syndrome). If severe, it may cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots with subsequent sensory or motor disturbances, such as pain, paresthesia, imbalance, and muscle weakness in the limbs.

When the space between two adjacent vertebrae narrows, compression of a nerve root emerging from the spinal cord may result in radiculopathy (sensory and motor disturbances, such as severe pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, back, or leg, accompanied by muscle weakness). Less commonly, direct pressure on the spinal cord (typically in the cervical spine) may result in myelopathy, characterized by global weakness, gait dysfunction, loss of balance, and loss of bowel or bladder control. The patient may experience shocks (paresthesia) in hands and legs because of nerve compression and lack of blood flow. If vertebrae of the neck are involved it is labelled cervical spondylosis. Lower back spondylosis is labeled lumbar spondylosis. The term is from Ancient Greek σπόνδυλος spóndylos, “a vertebra”, in plural “vertebrae – the backbone”.

Symptoms

In most cases, cervical spondylosis causes no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically affect only the neck — causing pain and stiffness.

Sometimes, cervical spondylosis results in a narrowing of the space needed by the spinal cord and the nerve roots that originate at the spinal cord and pass through the spine to the rest of your body. If the spinal cord or nerve roots become pinched, you may experience:

  • Tingling, numbness and weakness in your arms, hands, legs or feet
  • Lack of coordination and difficulty walking
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Causes

As you age, the bones and cartilage that make up your backbone and neck gradually develop wear and tear. These changes may include:

  • Dehydrated disks – Disks act like cushions between the vertebrae of your spine. By the age of 40, most people’s spinal disks begin drying out and shrinking, which allows more bone-on-bone contact between the vertebrae.
  • Herniated disks – Age also affects the exterior of your spinal disks. Cracks often appear, leading to bulging or herniated disks — which sometimes can press on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • Bone spurs – Disk degeneration often results in the spine producing extra amounts of bone, sometimes called bone spurs, in a misguided effort to shore up the spine’s strength. These bone spurs can sometimes pinch the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • Stiff ligaments – Ligaments are cords of tissue that connect bone to bone. Increasing age can make spinal ligaments stiffen and calcify, making your neck less flexible.

Treatment

According to Ayurveda the Vata, the principle of movement is the predominant function with the skeleto-muscular system and the nervous system. Problems relating to these systems are predominantly caused by vitiated Vata.

Vatavyadhis comes under a group of diseases which manifest by dhatu kshaya or margavarana and those are classified according to hetu, sthana and Lakshana. In the classification of dhatukshayajanya vatavyadhis, many degenerative conditions are considered. Cervical spondylosis can be considered one among them and can be compared with ‘Vishwachi’.

Treatment in Ayurveda is aimed at restoring the equilibrium through correction of the underlying functional in-equilibrium.

At Bhagwati Ayurveda, the treatment for Cervical Spondylosis is comprehensive and may include Ayurveda internal medicines & external applications for mild cases and along with these, Ayurveda Panchakarma therapies in severe cases. Diet and lifestyle modifications are applied in both the scenarios.

Panchakarma therapies like Abhyanga swedam, Elakizhi, Nasyam, Shirovasti or Shirodhara, Sarvangadhara, Greeva Basti, Navara or mamsa kizhi, Vasti are usually done based on the person’s presentation and severity of the disease. The average duration of therapy may range from 4 – 6 weeks and most of the cases experience high recovery.

Prevention

Best Ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis
  • Sour things, particularly curd, are strictly prohibited.
  • Fried things, pulses and various preparations of pulses are also contra-indicated in this condition.
  • Bitter vegetables like the bitter variety of drumstick, neem flowers and bitter gourd are very useful.
  • Wheat is better than rice in a cervical spondylosis diet. One should however, avoid taking refined wheat or maida (flour) and suji (semolina).
  • Vitamins A and C help reduce inflammation so one must consume lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Other nutrients important for reducing inflammation are omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E such as oilseeds, nuts and fish.
  • One must avoid highly acidic foods like red meat, citrus fruits and even white potatoes. The buildup of acid in the body can lead to puffiness of the joints and aggravate cervical spondylosis.
  • Eat four to six smaller meals, instead of three large meals.
  • A diet that’s very high in protein can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Also, avoid salt, phosphorus (from fizzy drinks), caffeine and alcohol can affect calcium obtained.