Embracing Ayurveda To Treat Cervical Spondylosis

Prolonged sitting or standing postures, working on computers for long hours and lack of physical exercise has become part and parcel of our current lifestyles. Not surprisingly, several problems related to the musculoskeletal system have become commonplace now. Degenerative diseases that were mainly seen in elderly people are now affecting people in their early and middle ages. Cervical Spondylosis is one such spinal problem that is generally seen in age groups over thirty.

 

Cervical Spondylosis Ayurvedic Treatment

We owe the ease with which we perform our daily activities at home and at work to technology. However, the same technology has made us less active physically. We spend much of our time hunched over keyboards or peering at a smart device. Even leisure activities are enjoyed on electronic devices. Our bodies were not designed for sedentary lives bent over static objects. The spine and muscles are particularly vulnerable to bad posture and habits. Musculoskeletal health problems are no longer confined to people of retirement age. It is not uncommon to find young people suffering from neck and back pain brought on by prolonged bad posture and lifestyles

Cervical spondylosis is the health issue brought on by the wear and tear of the discs in the cervical spine area of the neck. It is known as Griva Sandhigata Vata in Ayurveda. While this health problem used to be largely caused by age, it is now also seen in younger people. In older people, cervical spondylosis is caused by the discs that have dried and shrunk or discs that have cracks and bulges in them. In younger people, the problem can be caused by poor posture, unhealthy diets, and sedentary lifestyles. 

Sometimes the body tries to compensate for weakness by trying to strengthen the spine with bone growth. This causes the formation of bone spurs that cause pain. Sitting in the same position for hours all day can also cause the tendons in the neck to stiffen. Smoking aggravates the symptoms of cervical spondylosis. Lack of physical activity also weakens the muscle structure that supports the skeletal frame. This fails to adequately relieve the strain that is put on the bones and joints. 

Cervical spondylosis in Ayurveda is a Vata problem. It is caused by a Vata aggravating diet and lifestyle. Ayurvedic treatment for spondylosis uses herbal formulations to calm the Vata Dosha. The patient is also given diet advice to avoid the intake of Vata enhancing foods. Medication for the problem is also supplemented with the topical application of Ayurvedic oil for cervical spondylosis. More severe cases require external Ayurvedic medicine for cervical spondylosis Panchakarma treatments. 

Inflammation of the joints is caused by Ama. Ama is the metabolic waste that is formed by poor digestion. Ayurvedic medicine for spondylitis has Ama relieving medicines and herbs. Unwise lifestyle choices and food intake are corrected to prevent the formation of more Ama. Cervical treatment in Ayurveda also includes external Ama eliminating treatments.  Antiinflammatory herbs with analgesic properties relieve discomfort and pain. These are not very forceful and involve the gentle administration or application of cervical spondylosis Ayurvedic treatment oils and hot fomentation. Steam therapy, Navarakizhi, or Greeva Basti treatments also reduce pain and improve movement. 

Gentle stretches and having a more active lifestyle help to strengthen the muscles and the bones in the body. The treatment of cervical spondylosis in Ayurveda also involves medication to nourish the bones and the cervical discs. Sleeping properly and eating freshly prepared nutritious food prevents Ama formation in the body and reduces the inflammation and pain in the joints.

 

What is Cervical Spondylosis? 

Cervical spondylosis refers to the age-related wear and tear that affects the bones, joints, and discs of the cervical spine. It may also include the degenerative changes in the facet joints, longitudinal ligament and ligamentum flavum. As we age, the discs that act as cushions between two vertebrae gradually break down and become stiff. This results in the growth of bony structures called osteophytes which put pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord causing pain.

 

Causes and Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis

Causes

The bones and protective cartilage that make up your neck and backbone are prone to wear and tear that can lead to cervical spondylosis. Some of the causes that possibly lead to this condition are:

Dehydrated discs: With age, the discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae of your spine tend to dry out and shrink. This results in more bone on bone contact between the vertebrae, which can be painful.

Herniated discs: Aging can also impact the exterior of your spinal discs leading to cracks and bulging or herniated discs. Herniated discs can result in pain that radiates down the arm.

Bone spurs: Bone spurs are bone overgrowths that are the misguided efforts of the body to increase spine strength. The extra bone can pinch on the delicate areas of the spine and nerve roots causing pain.

Stiff ligaments: Ligaments are cords of tissue that connect your spinal bones to each other. Over time, they can stiffen and calcify, making your neck less flexible.

Work activity: Cervical spondylosis is found more in individuals who carry loads on their heads as well as in-office employees who spend a long time sitting in front of their computers.

Smoking: Smoking is associated with many degenerative diseases. Therefore, it may be a risk factor for cervical spondylosis as well.

 
Symptoms

Cervical spondylosis, in most people, presents itself without any significant symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, they may range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or occur suddenly. One major symptom associated with cervical spondylosis is pain around the shoulder blade. Some individuals experience pain along the arm and in the fingers, which may increase while standing, sitting, sneezing, coughing or tilting their neck backwards.

Another common symptom is muscle weakness. People find it hard to lift the arms or grasp objects firmly. Other cervical spondylosis symptoms include:

 

Cervical Spondylosis & Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, cervical spondylosis is known as “Griva Sandhigata Vata”. Vata governs the principle of movement in our body, which is the predominant function with the skeleton-muscular system. Therefore, the vitiation in Vata results in problems with these systems.

Vata vitiation can be caused by the following two mechanisms:

The treatment for cervical spondylosis, according to Ayurveda, involves detoxification and elimination of Ama (toxins) through Vata pacifying diet, lifestyle and herbal preparations.

 

Ayurvedic Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis treatment in Ayurveda aims at working on the root cause by balancing the Doshas and strengthening the Asthi Dhatu (bones). Some of the techniques and therapies employed to balance the Vata Dosha and correct the degenerative disorder are mentioned below.

Sometimes, people with cervical spondylosis develop anaesthetic areas on their neck, back, and shoulders due to the pressure on the nerves. They may not be able to judge the heat applied during fomentation. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the salt isn’t too hot to avoid burns on the neck.

Fomentation can be done for about half an hour every day. Following the process, the affected part should be covered with cotton or woolen garments. It’s better to get it done before bedtime.

 

Other Ayurvedic treatments for cervical spondylosis include:

Swedana or steam therapy: It is extremely effective in managing the pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of the condition.

Snehana or Oleation: This treatment is given to enhance the flexibility in joints, reduce dryness and facilitate regeneration.

Greeva Basti: A well-like poultice is placed at the back of the neck and warm medicated oil is poured into it. This alleviates pain as well as nourishes and rejuvenates the cushion. The medicated oils used in this procedure are Ksheerabala taila, Sahacharadi taila, Bala Ashwagandhadi taila, Mahamasha taila, Murivenna taila, etc.

Navarakizhi: It is a form of sweat-inducing massage which is aimed at nourishing the spine and relieving inflammation.

Raktamokshan therapy: Also known as leech therapy, it is one of the Panchkarmas of Ayurveda. A leech is attached to the affected part for about twenty to forty-five minutes. After the leech is removed, the area will continue to bleed for a while thus removing the toxins present in the bloodstream. Raktamokshan therapy is effective, safe and painless.

Panchakarma: Panchakarma therapies like Abhyanga swedam, Nasyam, Shirovasti, Elakizhi, Sarvangadhara, Mamsa kizhi can be performed on the patients based on their physical condition and severity of the disease. Panchakarma therapies may continue for a duration of four to six weeks and promise a high range of recovery.

 

Home Remedies to Manage Cervical Spondylosis

Due to their strong anti-inflammatory properties, the herbs and superfoods mentioned below act as the best home remedies to manage cervical spondylosis.

Castor oil: A tablespoon of castor oil once or twice a week before bed helps in cleansing toxins and balancing Vata.

 

Garlic: Eat a few raw garlic buds on an empty stomach every day in the morning. Alternatively, you can also heat two to three crushed garlic cloves in a pan with some vegetable oil, let it cool, and then use it to massage the affected area. Once you are done with that, take a warm bath.

 

Turmeric: Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of milk and heat it on low flame for around five minutes. Let it cool down. Add a little honey to it before drinking.

 

Sesame oil: Using warm sesame oil to massage the affected area can help relieve the pain. Then apply a hot compress on the area.

 

Ginger: Drink ginger tea twice a day. To make ginger tea, add a tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger in 2 cups of water and boil it for ten minutes. Now strain it, add some honey and drink it.

 

Cayenne Pepper: A mixture of 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and 2 tablespoons of olive oil can be applied to the affected area and covered with a cloth. Leave it on for a few hours or overnight.

 

Ghee: Add a bit of ghee to your food. It is a natural Vata pacifier and nourishes the nerves as well.

 

Herbal juices: Drink aloe vera and amla juice to improve the immunity of the body naturally.

Herbs: Ayurvedic herbs can be extremely beneficial in the treatment of cervical spondylosis. Some of the herbs include:

Things to avoid

 

Ayurvedic Medicines Recommended for Cervical Spondylosis

Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to the treatment of different physical ailments and diseases. It recommends developing a healthy lifestyle and good food habits to increase resistance to diseases and build harmony in life. Ayurvedic medicines also need to be taken to achieve a state of complete health. Certain Ayurvedic medicines that can prove extremely beneficial for cervical spondylosis are as follows.

 

Cervigest Capsule

Cervigest Capsule is a proprietary formulation inspired by a combination of ancient Ayurvedic oils - Kubjaprasarini thailam & Kethakimuladi thailam. These Ayurvedic oils have been used traditionally for helping in the treatment of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders related to head, neck, shoulder & arms. It is formulated using Avarthanam, a time-tested technique of potentiating the formulation and reducing the dosage.

Cervigest Capsule contains the following enriched & effective actives that make it one of the best Ayurvedic medicine for cervical spondylosis treatment and spine care management.

 

Ingredients

Each Cervigest Capsule is prepared out of:

- Dct.of 

- Pst.of

- Dhanyamlam (Lq.) 600 ml prepared of

 

Myaxyl Capsule

Myaxyl™ capsule is a rapid-acting proprietary analgesic and anti-inflammatory formulation recommended for arthritis, cervical spondylitis, and rheumatism. Myaxyl Capsule is a non-gastric irritant and maintains inflammatory levels within a normal range and improves joint mobility.

 

Composition

Each MyaxylTM capsule contains:

Extracts of –

Powders of –

 

Role of Diet in Controlling Cervical Spondylosis

Nutrients play a significant role in maintaining the integrity of the musculoskeletal system. Any deficiency in the necessary nutrients can make things go wrong in this system. For example, a deficiency in calcium will weaken the entire matric of the bone; an imbalance in the calcium and phosphorus ratio can result in demineralisation of the bone. Therefore, it is vital to consume a nutrient-rich balanced diet to maintain healthy bones and joints.

 
Vegetarian diet

Vegetables contain fibre, vitamins and minerals that are very beneficial to prevent constipation and remove toxins from the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, eating vegetables can prevent increased acidity of the blood and contribute to smooth bone metabolism. To increase calcium absorption in your body, add foods like almonds, pulses, sesame seeds, soya beans, cottage cheese, etc. to your diet.

 

Non-vegetarian diet

As meat is a high source of sulphur, eating meat can change the pH of the blood. It also increases the acid load on the blood leading to demineralisation of bones. A similar impact on the body has been observed in the case of fried, spicy, oily and sour foods, and refined foods like sweets, confectionery, bread and other refined wheat products. Consumption of such foods increases the acid load that the kidney can’t cope with leading to the deterioration of the overall and bone health.

 

Dietary tips for cervical spondylosis

 

Exercises for improved cervical spine health

 
Yoga

Yoga is a natural and holistic way of treating and managing cervical spondylosis and its symptoms. With the regular practice of this ancient science, one can develop a flexible body, calm mind and a positive attitude towards life. Under the expert guidance of a yoga teacher, you can learn yoga asanas that can alleviate the pain.

Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose: The Bhujangasana pose involves extending the chest and helps in strengthening the spine and soothing sciatica.

Dhanurasana or the Bow Pose: This asana stretches the neck and shoulders. It is quite effective in energizing the spine.

Setu Bandhasana or Bridge Pose: The flow of blood to the head is increased and improved by practicing Setu Bandhasana. It offers relief from headaches and also stretches the neck.

Ardha Matsyendrasana: With the Ardha Matsyendrasana pose, the neck and shoulders are stretched, and the spine is energized.

Marjariasana or the Cat Pose: This pose extends the neck and mitigates backache.

Matsyasana or the Fish Pose: Practising Matsyasana strengthens the back of the neck as well as stimulates the throat and neck.

 

Motion exercises

Cervical spondylosis and its symptoms can be effectively managed with the following simple motion exercises.

Neck stretch

 

Neck tilt

 

Neck tilt (side-to-side)

 

Neck turn

 

Isometric exercises

Unlike traditional exercises, isometric exercises have little or no joint movement and can be done practically anywhere and anytime. A few minutes of isometric cervical spondylosis exercises every day will bring huge benefits.

 

Static Flexion

 

Static Extension

 

Isometric Lateral Flexion

 

Isometric Lateral Flexion 2

The procedure to do this exercise is almost the same as isometric lateral flexion, but here, you need to place your right hand on the lower right side of the head closer to the chin. The next steps are the same.

 

Neck Flexing

This isometric exercise is quite helpful to improve neck flexibility and mobility. To perform this exercise, sit upright and bend your head forward. Try to touch your chin to your chest. Hold for some time and repeat. 


 

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