Neck is one of the most important parts of the body, since
- It holds the head which has the brain
- It is the condensed pathway of the nerves which emerge from the brain to supply the parts of the body and blood vessels from the heart to supply the brain It gives free movement to the head to look around by remaining as un-fused spine
As age advances, everything in constant use will have natural degeneration or wear-and-tear phenomenon due to friction on movement. The neck is no exception. In childhood, this wear and tear mechanism is ruled out due to deposition of calcium and growth of the bones, whereas in the case of adult or aged persons is worsened by osteoporosis or osteoarthritis or improper depositions of calcium. We see people carry heavy weights (porters) or a big pot full of water on their head (village ladies). But even a cap or helmet or flower cannot be tolerated by cervical spondlyitis patients.
There are two types of cervical problems, one is inflammatory and the other is degenerative due to ageing or disease or arthritis.
Cervical spondylitis is a wear-and-tear ageing process involving cervical vertebras as age advances or due to overuse. This type of arthritis is most commonly seen in middle age or elderly persons, but can
Cervical spondylosis is a secondary degenerative disease condition where damaged inter-vertebral discs and vertebra in course of time get ossified at the edges, forming an extra bone called osteophytes. This compensatory, undue formation of a new bone occurs on the edges which often hinge on the spinal nerves and cause pain. It also causes structural impairment. It can also involve one or more vertebrae. Here patients are advised not to do active exercises since pain, fracture, losing normal curvature of spine and distorted appearances can occur.
Pathology The vertebrae are neatly arranged one after another
Neck pain indicates problems of cervical spine, but it can also indicate meningitis or encephalitis (brain fever) through pain and stiffness. So neck pain should not be treated casually especially if there is fever.
Incidence and risk personalities
Cervical spondylitis is normally seen
- Old people
- Computer professionals
- People doing work that demands minute concentration
- Persons who constantly work by bending their neck
- Bike users
- Travellers who travel a long distance and sleep sitting
- Drivers who keep the neck in the same position for a long time
- Watching TV in abnormal positions or by lying down
- Habit of holding neck in one position
Causes May be primary (by degenerative wear-and-tear phenomenon) or secondary (by diseased or inflammatory process or injury). The common causes or triggers are mainly
- Wrong positions in work or sleep for a long time
- Complete rest or non-use of joints or sedentary or sluggish nature
- Fall or injury or trauma
- Violent exercises
- Diseases of bones
- Drugs affecting bones
- Overuse of TV, phone, bike, chairs, etc.
Symptoms Usually an array of symptoms will alert us. If we neglect those, it will lead to permanent damage. Cervical spondylitis can cause a different set of symptoms depending upon the involvement of vertebrae or disc or both. The main symptoms are
- Pain in neck which can radiate to back, shoulders and down to hands
- Early morning stiffness of the neck and shoulder denotes the need of additional support
- Pain and stiffness can be noted when about to move after a period of rest
- Weakness of hands with numbness and tingling sensation
- Crackling sounds when moving the neck
- Occipital headaches with swaying gait or giddiness or lack of concentration
- Swelling and tenderness of the neck may be noted in spots of inflammation
- Sometimes chest pain
- Tilt of neck to any one of the side due to inflammation
- Restriction of movements of the neck
- Pain gets intensified with movement, bending, coughing and sneezing
often develop if left untreated or maltreated. Also
- Degenerative changes can cause permanent deformity of the spine
- Paralysis of hands or legs due to compression of nerve root
- Lack of bladder or bowel control depending upon the intensity of the spondylitis
- Muscular weakness and marasmus (wasting of muscles) of the hands
- Herniation of inter-vertebral (cervical) discs
- Kyphosis (curvature of spine)
- Osteophyte changes and calcification which can fuse for immobility of spine
Diagnosis and investigation – It is better to consult a doctor. Examination of the spine and checking the force and ability to flex the head in front, backways, sideways and rotation of the head should be done before starting treatment. The weakness, loss of sensation, stiffness
General treatment Aiming for relief of pain, generally allopathic doctors initially opt for antibiotics and painkillers. Peptic ulcer patients suffer more since they cannot take painkillers due to its aggravating nature with ulcer complaints.
Bed rest and cervical collar will be advised for restricting movement and support. But using cervical collar in the long run will cause fixation of bones and restriction of movement. For example – you can notice the same in a stiff knee, if it is covered with Plaster of Paris for fracture below the knee. In this case, even though the knee is free from ailments, non-use for a prolong time makes it stiff, which needs exercises for a long time to make it normal. Also it can weaken the muscles due to non-usage.
Nowadays people commonly use external applications or sprays like soothing agents which alleviates the pain in minutes. This will temporarily mask the complaints or pain. Also, instantly killing the pain with painkiller tablets or injections or sprays is just like putting off the light when you don’t want to see the things around, but surely the day will come to light up, where you cannot switch off the pain.
Finally, every physician directs the patient to go for physiotherapy to get relief. Improvement mainly comes from posture correction, mild, gentle exercises, warmth application, shortwave therapy and traction. In any case treatment should be started at the earliest with proper maintainance of position or otherwise the vertebrae will get affected.
Since there is no known conservative medical treatment available for structural changes or damage, in case of severe pain or suffering, they do surgery as a last resort. Here, risk of paralysis and development of pain and arthritis in different locations are unavoidable. By surgery they can relieve the nerves which get compressed between the vertebrae and fix the affected joint so that there won’t be any movement in that joint to cause pain. But this restricted movement of one joint strain other joints since each and every vertebra continues to move in succession one after another during movement. So this joint fixation will complicate other joints, later on.
Prevention and management – You can heal yourself if you do things right i.e. simply doing things perfectly can help in relieving the complaints
Use a small pillow i.e. not more than 3-4 inches thickness
Check for bike shock absorbers often and use smooth roads
Sit erect and use neck in erect posture in all your jobs
Take rest or move about once in 1-2 hours in case of working in a constant position
Rest your wrist on a table or the elbow on the chair while using the computer
Maintaingood posture while reading or working with computers
Always work comfortably while doing any job
Wear collar while traveling to avoid pain and deterioration
Wear warm scarf on cold days
Warm up slowly to relax the stiffness, if any
Do simple and gentle exercises
Take high fibre content diet like vegetables, fruits, etc.
Take zinc, selenium, Omega3 fatty acids to have better healing or relief
Don’t put hands under the head while sleeping
Don’t lift any heavy weight or do any strenuous exercises
Don’t massage violently with analgesics, since it can aggravate the complaint
Don’t use traction or collar or painkillers or drugs continuously
Avoid cold exposures and cold bath
Avoid citrus fruits, egg, tomato, potato, since they can precipitate pain
In this advanced medical world, people give a chance for every system of medicine to get rid of their problem. In cervical problems also they follow the same.
Homoeopathy is the fingerpost on the crossroads of healing which directs the way to safest and
One thing everyone should accept is that we cannot do against Nature i.e. if it is due to ageing process, we have to accept it. But, surely, we can live better without any complaints or pain with proper posture and Homeopathic medicines. Likewise, structural damage in advanced cases cannot be cured completely but we can manage the condition without pain. We can aim for near normal in all other cases. If we mask the pain with external applications or painkillers, without treating the actual conditions, then it will lead to complications due to use of the neck in spite of pain or complaints which have been masked.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in case of cervical spondylitis or spondylosis are Acid flour, Acid phos, Antim-crud, Apis mel, Arnica, Bryonia, Calc flour, Calc phos, Cimicifuga, Causticum, Chelidonium, Colchicum, Gnaphalium, Kalmia, Kali phos, Lachesis, Ledum, Lycopodium, Medorrhinum, Nat phos, Pulsatilla, Rhododendron, Rhus tox, Ruta, Silicea, Strychinum, Sulphur, Thuja, Zinc met, etc. These medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.