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Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative health concern characterized by excruciating pain, stiffness, numbness, and restricted movement of the neck.
Aging is one of the biggest reasons for cervical spondylosis. Other factors include excessive strain on the neck during a workout, long work hours, lack of exercise, sleeping in the wrong position (usually on your stomach), and underlying health conditions that inhibit calcium absorption in your body.
Why does it happen?
The intervertebral disc acts as a soft cushion between vertebrae of the spine, and it deteriorates with age, making Cervical Spondylosis a progressive condition and fairly common among people aged 60 and above.
While ageing is a major cause of cervical spondylosis, it's not the only factor at play. Let's look at various other causes of cervical spondylosis.
Ageing is inevitable, and so are the problems that come with it. Because of ageing, the spinal discs dehydrate and shrink and therefore lose their ability to provide cushioning between spinal vertebrae. The bone-on-bone contact results in extreme pain and stiffness.
Ligaments are flexible yet sturdy cords of tissues that act as a physical link between two bones. With age, spinal ligaments lose their flexibility and restrict neck movement.
Because of age or injury, spinal discs may develop cracks or bend out of shape and press on nerve roots to cause extreme discomfort and pain.
Osteophytes are unwanted bony projections formed on your spine. These can make up for disc degeneration. These bone spurs do more harm by pressing on your spinal cord and causing pain.
What Leads to Such Conditions?
As mentioned above, cervical spondylosis is as natural as ageing, except cervical spondylosis can be prevented with a few lifestyle adjustments, which we will discuss in the latter part of this article.
If your job involves recurrent neck movements or awkward sitting positions that strain your neck, the chances of developing cervical spondylosis increase significantly.
A person is highly likely to develop cervical spondylosis because of a neck injury. Therefore, it is advisable to seek massage therapies while recovering from a neck injury.
Sometimes, disc degeneration runs in the family. Individuals who carry it in their genes are more vulnerable to cervical spondylosis than those who don't.
It is important to identify the symptoms and early signs of cervical spondylosis so you can take corrective measures in time to curb the damage. Most people mistake cervical spondylosis for neck sprain or fatigue and often refuse the treatment only to worsen their situation.
Here are a few symptoms of cervical spondylosis you should watch out for:
According to Ayurveda, the symptoms of cervical spondylosis can be chalked up to vitiated Vata dosha. However, there are several cervical spondylosis treatments in Ayurveda that have treated the condition naturally.
Ayurveda uses medicines and Panchakarma therapies like medicated enema or Basti that may improve the symptoms of cervical spondylosis. These procedures may run depending on how well your body responds to the treatment.
Let's delve deeper into Ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution for Ayurvedic treatments for cervical spondylosis. Each therapy is unique to the age and condition of the individual and can be tailored according to how well their bodies respond.
In case you are seeking alternative therapies to treat cervical spondylosis, here are a few treatments that are recommended and administered by certified Ayurveda practitioners.
Abhyanga-Swedam is an Ayurvedic massage therapy followed by fomentation that usually lasts 60 to 90 minutes. A certified practitioner delivers the treatment as a combination of gentle strokes and deep kneading using medicated massage oils. Applying gentle pressure around the neck area may help with cervical spondylosis. Fomentation helps the medicated oil to reach deeper into the tissues.
Elakizhi induces applying boluses of medicinal leaves in target areas to flush out toxins from the body through sweating. The therapy is delivered by a certified practitioner using fresh herbs. The treatment is believed to pacify Vata dosha and may aid in reducing musculoskeletal pains.
Sarvangadhara is an oil dripping therapy administered by a practitioner using warm, medicated oils. The treatment is said to benefit individuals suffering from various musculoskeletal issues. The massage covers all body parts from head to toe and can promote relaxation and treat aches, fatigue, and stress.
Greeva/ Kati Vasti is an Ayurvedic therapy focused on back and neck pains. Greeva / Kati Vasti is a specialized oil therapy for the neck, back, and shoulder, delivered by a trained practitioner. The procedure involves puddling warm, medicated oil over the affected area, followed by a gentle massage to maximize the treatment’s benefits.
Navara Kizhi is a massage therapy focused on joint & muscle pain and sore tissues. This Ayurvedic therapy is delivered in two steps. First, the affected area is massaged using warm, medicated oils to prepare for the second phase, including a mixture of cooked medicated navara rice, cow's milk, and various herbal decoctions.
Although Pizhichil is a full-body Ayurvedic massage, it can be focused on specific areas for pain relief. Special linen cloth is dipped in warm, medicated oil and is squeezed all over the body and the head, followed by a gentle massage delivered to the recipient in multiple positions. It takes two to four practitioners to provide this massage effectively, and it lasts an hour and a half.
Kerala Ayurveda Kottamchukkadi Thailam is not only the best choice for those suffering from tennis elbow, but also helps reduce stiffness, swelling, and inflammation in cervical spondylosis. It penetrates deep and helps in relieving stiffness of affected joints, and improves flexibility.
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Yogaraja Guggulu helps reduce joint pain and stiffness and can also be used as an Ayurvedic medicine for cervical spondylosis. These tablets may help pacify Vata and Kapha doshas while supporting healthy joints.
Kerala Ayurveda Mahanarayana Thailam is a relaxing massage oil that soothes muscles post-workout or after a long yoga session. But it also penetrates deep into the skin and nourishes the exhausted muscles.
While we don't intend to play up these home remedies and lifestyle habits as a sure-shot cure, using them once in a while can support your primary treatments for Cervical Spondylosis. However, there's always a particular risk of medicinal interaction. It’s advisable to consult your doctor when opting for cervical spondylosis home remedies.
Garlic possesses anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and including this in your meals may help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.
Sesame seeds are fortified with vitamins K and D, calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and other minerals that are good for musculoskeletal health and may help manage pain. You can apply warm sesame oil to soothe the pain.
Taking one teaspoon of castor oil with lukewarm water at night can help cleanse ama (toxins) and balance Vata. Do this once or twice a week.
Add one teaspoon turmeric powder to milk and heat the mix for five minutes at low flame. Let it cool, and add a little honey to improve the taste. Have it at night, before food.
Drinking ginger tea twice a day can help improve your symptoms. Boil 4-5 thinly sliced ginger strips in 2 cups of water at medium flame for 10 minutes. Strain the water and add honey to improve the taste.
Simple exercises like head rotation and side-to-side neck movements can prevent the neck pain from worsening. Do this exercise for at least 10 minutes twice daily.
A warm water bath with Epsom salt will help the muscles to relax. It helps reduce inflammation and improves blood flow.
You must avoid consuming sour and other acidic foods when suffering from cervical spondylosis or a musculoskeletal condition. For instance, amla, red meat, and citrus fruits. Also, eating white potatoes may shift Vata dosha away from its optimum levels. This may further aggravate the symptoms of cervical spondylosis.
High-protein foods can interfere with how your body absorbs calcium. Low calcium absorption is one of the driving factors behind cervical spondylosis. It is also recommended to avoid salt and phosphorus, which is present in high quantities in carbonated drinks. Also, overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol can impede your body's ability to absorb calcium.
Avoid cold baths and strenuous exercises that involve movements of the neck muscles.
Sleeping on your belly can strain your neck. Plus, avoid slouching while sitting at your desk for long hours.
Cervical spondylosis is a health concern that usually occurs because of aging. Ayurveda may help manage symptoms of cervical spondylosis and delay the degeneration.
Many treatments are available for cervical spondylosis, from oral medication to massage therapies to clinical surgeries. You and your physician must determine the right treatment according to your circumstances and the severity of your symptoms.
A balanced diet, positive lifestyle changes and certain Ayurvedic therapies may help manage the symptoms of cervical spondylosis. However, there's no permanent cure other than clinical surgery.
Massage therapy using medicated oils is a great way to relieve pain and stiffness in the neck area. And it is advised to go for a gentle massage therapy provided by a certified practitioner.
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