During one sharing session on meditation, I noted that some members suffered from cervical spondylosis and sadly, western medicine could not offer much help to relieve their pains. One of CancerStory.com's keen volunteers also suffered the same condition. Fortunately, she sought treatment from Dr David Liew, an experienced doctor of Chiropractic, who helped resolve her medical condition. It was through her kind introduction that I got acquainted with Dr Liew.
On 26 March 2006, together with the Bedok Youth Executive Committee, CancerStory.com organized a Public Talk in Mandarin - Managing Neck Pain & Knee Joint Pain, that was attended by about 160 people. Dr Liew was our invited speaker and he delivered an informative sharing session. To share with web surfers, we requested Dr Liew to contribute the write-up below on cervical spondylosis.
Cervical spondylosis is the common term used to describe degeneration of the spinal vertebrae on the neck. Like the rest of the body, bones in the neck progressively degenerate as we grow older. Over times arthritis of the neck may result from bone degeneration and problems with ligaments and disks. The spinal canal may narrow and may compress the spinal cord and nerves that link to the head, shoulders and arms. Injuries to the neck can also cause spinal degeneration and compression. The pain that results may range from mild discomfort to severe dysfunction of the joint.
Several risk factors have been proposed for cervical spondylosis
- Repeated occupational trauma (eg. Carrying axial loads, gymnastics) may contribute.
- Possible genetic cause
- Smoking also increase the risk factor
- Conditions that contribute to segmental instability and excessive segmental motion (eg. Congenital spine fusion, cerebral palsy, down syndrome) may be risk factors for spondylotic disease.
Cervical spondylosis can lead to chronic pain and stiffness in the neck that may also lead numbness of the upper extremities.
- Neck stiffness and pain may be worse with upright activities.
- Numbness and weakness may appear in the arms, hands, and fingers, and weakness in the legs.
- May feel or hear grinding or popping in the neck when you move.
- Muscle spasms or headaches.
- May feel irritable and fatigue, disturb sleep and impair your ability to work.
The diagnosis is usually through physical examination and imaging.
- Physical exam - the doctor may identify tender spots along the neck and evaluate your ability to move the neck in various directions. The function of the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs may be tested.
- Imaging - X-rays and MRI studies may be used to show bone spur and other abnormalities and reveal the extent of damage to the cervical spine.
The symptoms of cervical spondylosis may last for several months or years. Most of the time if symptoms are mild, the doctor may recommend rest, medication, and physical therapy.
- Rest - may need to wear a soft cervical collar or neck brace to limit neck motion to
relieve nerve irritation.
- Medication - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or other
non-narcotic pain relievers to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- Physical therapy - Hot and cold therapy, cervical traction or active exercise
program to relieve pain symptoms.
When the symptoms are too severe, most of the doctors may recommend surgery. Chiropractic is another alternative of healing for cervical spondylosis treatment.
Surgery may be necessary if you have severe pain that does not improve from other conservative treatments. It should be your last resort as there is always a risk factor involved.
Chiropractic is shown to be effective in treating cervical spondylosis. It uses gentle spinal manipulation technique to correct spinal subluxation and help to relieve nerve irritation. Spinal subluxation is the term used by chiropractic to describe the misalignment of the spinal vertebrae.
Cervical spondylosis is a treatment disease especially at its early stages. The key is to identify the condition early and seek treatment. It is important to note that bone degeneration process cannot be cured. The process can only be minimized through healthy diet and lifestyle, exercises and good structural posture.