Cervical Spondylosis in older adults

By avn
6:08 am Posted April 21, 2016
In Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is caused due to the shrinking and degeneration of bones and associated structures like the discs and ligaments in the vertebrae. This syndrome majorly affects the bones in the neck and lower back, resulting in discomfort and severe pain. Cervical spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the Cervical spine is the name of this condition, associated with aging and degeneration of the bones. In extreme cases of cervical spondylosis, bony projections or abnormal growth may occur in the edges of the bones. Survey has proved that more than 85% of people older than 60 years are affected by cervical spondylosis.

Symptoms of Cervical spondylosis in older adults

Cervical Spondylosis in many cases does not cause symptoms. However in some cases, it surfaces in the form of pain and stiffness of the neck and shoulder. In few cases, the duct of the spinal cord (Spinal canal) or the passage through which the spinal nerves emerge (Neural foramen) is narrowed due to bulging discs or protrusions of the bones. This disables the nerves to smoothly communicate with the rest of the body leading to pain and inability to function normally. Here, the patient may experience:

  • Pain, tingling, numbness and weakness of the arms, hands, legs or feet
  • Lack of coordination and difficulty in performing daily activities
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

What happens in Cervical spondylosis in older adults

    • Dehydration of disks in the spine

The disks between the vertebrae and spine act as a cushion, taking away the load from the subsequent vertebrae. With age, the discs lose water content and become less elastic. This condition is called as disc dehydration. This makes the disc prone to damage from trauma, even small jerks as in a motor car ride.

    • Herniated disks

Subsequently, the exterior part of the discs which is low in water content develops cracks. This results in the soft inner part bulging out and this condition is called herniated spinal disks. This condition called herniation of disc or Prolapse of disc applies pressure on the spinal cord and the nerve roots

    • Bone spurs

The degeneration of the spinal discs produces also leads to development of abnormal growth of the bone, impinging the spinal cord or the nerves. This also results in pain, which affects the spinal cord and nerve roots

    • Stiff ligaments

The neck bones are help together in position by ligaments, which that the vertebrae do not move out of place while movement takes place. These ligaments connect from bone-to-bone guiding the movement. Aging stiffens these ligaments which may also cause restriction of movement. The other problem that happens is that as the discs lose water content they lose height and get flattened. This leads to reduction in the distance between the vertebrae. So the ligaments that were originally tight become lax. The laxity of the ligaments leads to a condition of instability of the joint as abnormal movement of the spine is now possible. This leads to further complications like listhesis and further damage to associated structures.

Risk factors accelerating Cervical spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is majorly caused due to the following reasons:

  • Aging is a major reason
  • Occupational factors like poor posture or continuous stress on the neck is yet another cause
  • Severe injuries in the past may also contribute towards this clinical condition
  • Smoking has been associated to accelerated cervical spondylosis
  • Genetic factors also play a very important role in the occurrence of premature cervical spondylosis

Treatment of Cervical spondylosis in older adults

There is no specific treatment for cervical spondylosis in the elderly patients in contemporary medicine. Treatment that is given is only aimed at relieving symptoms like pain or improving flexibility with exercises. However, Ayurvedic treatment is very effective as a specific treatment, as it addresses the basic problems in cervical spondylosis. The major problems associated with cervical spondylosis are due to the damage to the nerves by the pressure exerted by the protruded discs or bony spurs or the hypertrophied (thickened) ligaments. Treatment with specific Ayurvedic medicines and therapies helps to improve the disc integrity, and to heal the nerves that are compressed by the protruding structures leading to a permanent relief from the pain, numbness and weakness in the neck, shoulders or hands. This leads to a significantly improved quality of life in older adults, helping them to lead normal lives without the need for taking pain killers and without undergoing surgery.

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