Diagnosis and management of cervical spondylosis

By avn
4:33 am Posted June 4, 2016
In Cervical Spondylosis

What is cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis is the inflexibility of the vertebrae, which occurs most commonly in middle aged and elderly people due to the wear-and-tear of muscles caused by aging. Continuous pressure and strain on the cervical spine, poor posture may also lead to cervical spondylosis.

Diagnosis of cervical spondylosis

This clinical condition is accompanied by acute pain in the neck and shoulder. Suboccipital pain along with headache may also occur. Due to disk degeneration, the constant mechanical stress results in osteophytic bars. These bars tend to form along the ventral part of the spinal canal also resulting in pain and discomfort. This condition may also become complicated with degenerative changes in facet joints and damage to longitudinal ligament. They result in impingement on pain sensitive areas of the cervical spine like the nerves and spinal cord leading to clinical syndromes. In aged patients, spondylotic changes are observed and a minimal percentage of patients may own radiographic evidence of cervical spondylosis.

Distinct aspects of cervical spondylosis

  • The exact source of pain is very often misinterpreted. This particular clinical complication is because of compression of the sinovertebral nerves and medial branches in the cervical region
  • Cervical spondylosis is the stiffness of the neck bones that furthermore radiates to the shoulder, which may be chronic or episodic. This pain may/may not re-emit itself at regular intervals of time
  • Other symptoms include headache, shoulder pain, discomfort in the functioning of the arm, forearm and hand

Treatment of cervical spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis cannot be dealt by a single type of therapy or treatment. Few techniques are as listed below:

  • Immobilization of the neck helps in reducing the pain and nerve irritation. Soft cervical collars may also be recommended to the patients. Such collars can be used only during the daytime but they do not contribute towards limiting the motion of the neck muscles largely. The patient’s tolerance level also plays a vital role. Isometric cervical exercises and molded cervical pillows can also help in providing symptomatic relief to patients.
  • Mechanical traction is a widely used clinical method, which immobilizes the cervical region
  • Isometric exercises to strengthen the neck and upper back muscles along with light aerobic exercises are also recommended. These sessions need to be compulsorily monitored by a qualified physical therapist
  • Exposure or application of heat to the tissues in the cervical region through superficial devices or other mechanisms is yet another treatment
  • Manual therapy including massage, mobilization and manipulation may also provide relief to the patients. However, such therapies should be performed only by qualified therapists
  • Occupational therapy which includes lifestyle modifications, workplace evaluation, postural training, stress management and directions to use assistive devices may help patients to carry out their daily activities independently
  • Recreational therapy may include helping the patient to boost their confidence, provide community exposure, motivation and help the patient adjust with their disability.

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