Spondylosis is one of the common progressive and degenerative diseases of the spine. Ageing is the prime trigger factor of spondylosis. It starts with some acute and chronic symptoms like neck pain, and gradually it turns into cervical radiculopathy. (Cervical radiculopathy is a condition, where the nerve of the neck is irritated. It happens when the nerve root is pinched by the herniated disc.)
Approx. 95% of the population, above the age of 60, experiences cervical spondylosis with some intensity. In the early stage of the condition, desiccation (severe dryness) occurs in the discs, which leads to the loss of disc height. As a result, it reduces the ability of the disc to maintain and bear additional loads alongside the cervical spine. Spondylosis affects not only cervical (neck), but also thoracic (mid-back), or lumbar (low back) regions of the spine.
Cervical spine (neck):
It is the delicate part of the spine (neck). It houses the spinal cord, which passes messages from the brain to all body parts, controlling the flexibility, movements in all directions, and strength. It is more susceptible to deterioration.
Thoracic spine (mid back):
It is less affected as compared to the cervical and lumbar spine, due to its reduced mobility. If there is spondylosis in this region, there will be an outward curvature of the back, and it leads to hunching of the curve. This condition is called a kyphosis.
lumbar spine (lower back):
It refers to the lower spine or lower back. It carries most of the body weight. It is more prone to have degenerative changes, which impacts on its surrounding structures also, like a disc, spinal cord, spinal nerve, etc., causing difficulty in walking, standing, or lifting any object. For example, radiculopathy is a condition, where one or more nerves are impinged by the osteophytes or bone spurs, causing severe pain.
Symptoms of Spondylosis:
The patient of spondylosis may have the following signs and symptoms:
According to the Journal of Disease-a-month, the incidence of spondylosis related neck pain is approx. 20-25%, worldwide
Causes of Spondylosis:
Spondylosis is an age-related process. As the age advances, the bones and ligaments of the spine start wearing, resulting bone spurs or osteoarthritis. In addition, the intervertebral discs degenerate and weaken, and causes bulging and herniation of the disc. Apart from the age, the other factors which trigger the condition, are:
Commonsite of spondylosis:
With advanced age and overuse, the cartilage that covers and protects the joint becomes degenerated gradually. When the cartilage wears away completely, the bones come in the direct contact with each other, resulting friction between them. In spondylosis, the stress over the cartilaginous end plates increases due to the thinning of the intervertebral disc (IVD). The thinning of the IVD begins with nucleus pulpous (inner part of the IVD). The fluid part of the IVD decreases in quantity and moves inwards, and the outer layer of the IVD becomes bulged outwards.
Signs and symptoms
Computed tomography scans (CT): To evaluate any changes in the bone and spinal canal.
MRI : To evaluate images of soft tissues, such as muscles, disks, nerves, and the spinal cord.
X-ray : It shows bony changes, like loss of disk height or bone spurs.Radiological features :
The spondylosis treatment focuses on providing pain relief and reducing the risk of any permanent damage so that you can lead a normal life. Usually, non-operative treatment works excellent for the condition. Your health care provider will prescribe the following medications if over-the-counter drugs don’t give you any relief:
Surgery is reserved for patients who have severe pain that has not been relieved by other treatment. Surgery is not indicated for some patients with severe pain and other complications. This is due to the widespread nature of their arthritis, any other medical problems, or other causes for their pain, such as fibromyalgia.
TENS unit may be recommended to a patient for home use. In this, the e-stimulator is used that stimulates your muscles through the various intensities of electrical current. It helps decrease muscle spasms and act as a natural painkiller. TENS is also effective to drive out inflammation, and to relax the muscles involved.
Physiotherapists use different heating modalities to improve blood circulation to the target area. It helps increase blood flow with more oxygen and nutrients to that particular area, which is required to remove waste created by the muscle spasms, and is also effective in decreasing the pain.
Soft tissue manipulation:
This technique is effective in treating spasms, chronic muscle tension, and also the pain produced in daily life stress. The physiotherapist uses direct pressure and friction to release the tension from the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, and muscles).
Cryotherapy (cold therapy) reduces the circulation and help reduce the inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. You can use the cold packs and sprays in the target area for this purpose. Ice massage is also effective to reduce the spasm and pain.
This is a set of exercises we asked her to do for 30 min.
Soft collars and braces:
The braces and collars are used to limit the neck & back motion, and to permit the muscles to rest. The patient should wear these for a short period of time because wearing the collar and braces for a long time, may decrease the strength of neck muscles.