The process of aging places a great deal of stress on your body. Not only will you see visible changes in your appearance, but your underlying skeletal, muscular, and other systems will experience numerous changes. Cervical spondylosis is one of the most common spinal conditions that affect patients over the age of 55. This disorder is basically a wearing down of the spinal disks, resulting in pain and discomfort in the back, neck, and head. Even though it is common, most people do not fully understand cervical spondylosis. With this guide, you will become more familiar with the signs and treatment options for this disorder.
Signs of Cervical Spondylosis
You may be surprised to learn that some patients do not experience any symptoms initially. Many patients do not even realize they have cervical spondylosis until they are being seen for another issue, such as back pain or headaches.
Cervical spondylosis can cause a narrowing of the spaces in your spinal cord, pinching nerves. This is when the pain and discomfort of the back, neck, and head begin.
Here are a few other symptoms of cervical spondylosis:
- Numbness in arms, hands, legs, and feet
- Tingling sensation in arms, hands, legs, and feet
- Difficulty balancing and walking
In severe instances, the pinched nerves can cause you to lose control of your bladder and bowels. This is a sure sign you need medical intervention.
Treating Cervical Spondylosis
Treating cervical spondylosis is possible, but your doctor will first need to conduct a series of tests to diagnose the condition. A physical exam is likely, since your doctor will need to see your neck's range of motion and your overall reflexes, coordination, and gait. X-rays and MRIs may also be necessary to determine the extent of damage and deterioration of nerves and narrowing of the spaces in the spinal cord.
Treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. If you are only experiencing pain and discomfort in the back or neck, anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed. Corticosteroid injections may also be administered to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Unless your condition has progressed to a more severe stage, your doctor may suggest consulting a chiropractor to ease pain and improve the function of the spine and neck.
Chiropractors can use one or more of the following treatments for your cervical spondylosis:
- Hydrotherapy – Hydrotherapy involves the use of water, in various forms, to reduce physical and emotional pain. Hydrotherapy may involve ice packs, heat compresses, or relaxing in a jetted tub.
- Massage – Massage therapy is also effective for stimulating blood circulation, which decreases inflammation and pain.
- Cervical Adjustments – Your chiropractor will most likely suggest a cervical manipulation to ease the pain and tension in your neck. During this neck treatment, the chiropractor will manipulate the spine, realigning it with the head and neck. This eases stress on not only your spinal cord, but also the ligaments and nerves in your neck.
Again, if your specific case of cervical spondylosis is causing severe pain, numbness, coordination issues, or loss of bladder and bowel control, a more involved treatment is essential.
You and your doctor will work together to determine the best surgical option for your disorder. Surgery to remove herniated discs that have occurred due to the narrowing of your spine or removing a section of your vertebrae may be necessary.
Living with cervical spondylosis is possible, but the condition can wreak havoc on your daily life. You and your doctor should design a plan to ease your pain and inflammation. From prescription pain relievers and massage to a cervical adjustment or surgery, there are options to help your cervical spondylosis.