Cervical spondylosis is a distressful health challenge of our time. It is associated with degenerative changes of the cervical (neck) structures. Most victims of common neck pain problems, who went to health practitioners, were often told that their discs have degenerated resulting to a medical jargon called cervical spondylosis.
Engineer Briggs, 65yrs, was treating his neck pain problem in Nigeria, Lagos precisely before he was invited by his only son who resides in Canada. He spent one month in the States and during this period, he was virtually seeking for more effective treatment for his back pain. According to Briggs, his son would make sure he got better before going back to Nigeria; hence he took him to several pain hospitals. At the hospitals, he was nicely attended to but his pain problem was not lucky. It did not abate despite the attention given to his condition, Briggs narrated. “Your pain would be alright provided you take your pain drugs and attend good physiotherapy”, the doctors would say. Briggs remembered he read my column- ‘Back pain & you’ in February, 2014 in Daily Sun newspapers and had saved the contact phone number. Few days after he flew back to Nigeria, he established contact with the columnist. To cut the story short, he began his treatment at the affiliate centre of Back pain care foundation (Omega physiotherapy and back pain care centre) located at #9 Ohafia Road, phase 3, Kubwa, FCT, Abuja, on the 14th of February and by 2nd of April, 2018, he has conquered the pain. He was amazed at the simplicity of the treatment for a troublesome problem that took him outside the shores of Nigeria. In one of the treatment days while lying on the treatment couch, he excitedly called his son in Canada; “My disturbing neck pain is fast disappearing” It is only a person who has experienced a damaged spinal neck disc understands the agony and helplessness it brings. The pain can be excruciating. Every movement seems to make it worse. Cervical spondylosis has no boundaries.
In a 4-day workshop held between 13/12/2018 and 16/12/2018, for the staff of Nigeria Ports Authority Marina, headquarters, Lagos where I was the resource person on back pain challenge. I discovered that many of the participants were sufferers of degenerative neck pain which greatly affect their efficiency. At the end of programme we had meaningful discussion on how to conquer the pain. Cervical spondylosis, also known as cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis, is a common, age-related condition that affects the joints and discs in the neck. It develops from wear and tear of the cartilage and bones found in the cervical spine, which is in the neck. While it’s largely due to age, it can be caused by other factors as well.
This condition is present in more than 85 percent of people over the age of 60, although some people who have it never experience symptoms.
For some, it can cause chronic, severe pain and stiffness. However, many people who have it are able to conduct normal daily activities.
Unfortunately, the bones and protective cartilage in the neck are prone to wear and tear that can lead to cervical spondylosis. Possible causes of the condition include:1) Bone spurs. These are overgrowths of bone that are as the result of the body trying to grow extra bone to make the spine stronger. However, the extra bone can press on delicate areas of the spine, such as the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in pain. 1) Dehydrated spinal discs. Our spinal bones have discs between them, which are thick, pad-like cushions that absorb the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities. The gel-like material inside these disks can dry out over time. This causes our bones (spinal vertebrae) to rub together more, which can be painful. This process can begin around age 40. 3) Herniated discs; the spinal discs can develop cracks, which allows leakage of the internal cushioning material. This material can press on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in symptoms such as arm numbness and pain.4) Injury; If you have had an injury to your neck, such as during a fall or car accident, this can accelerate the aging process.5) Ligament Stiffness; The tough cords that connect your spinal bones to each other can become even stiffer over time, which affects your neck movement and makes the neck feel tight. 6) Overuse; Some occupations or hobbies involve repetitive of movements or heavy lifting, such as construction work. This can put extra pressure on the spine, resulting in early wear and tear. The greatest risk factor for cervical spondylosis is aging. Cervical spondylosis often develops as a result of changes in our neck joints as we age. .
Factors other than aging can increase your risk of cervical spondylosis. These include: neck injuries, work-related activities that put extra strain on your neck from heavy lifting, holding your neck in an uncomfortable position for prolonged periods of time or repeating the same neck movements throughout the day (repetitive stress) genetic factors (family history of cervical spondylosis), smoking and being overweight and inactive. Symptomatically, most people with cervical spondylosis don’t have significant symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or occur suddenly. One common symptom is pain around the shoulder blade. Patients will complain of pain along the arm and in the fingers. The pain might increase when: standing, sitting, sneezing Coughing and tilting your neck backward. Another common symptom is muscle weakness. Muscle weakness makes it hard to lift the arms or grasp objects firmly. Disc degeneration (cervical spondylosis) is far more serious in some people than in others. Severe cases may be the result of a deficiency in collagen, the material that makes up the cartilage. Poor muscle tone, poor posture, and obesity also put excessive strain on the spine and the ligaments that hold the discs in place.
Whichever type of disc problem that may be present, physiotherapy care skillfully performed will go a long way, either to eliminate the pain or dramatically diminish it within minutes.