Cervical Spondylitis is a common degenerative condition of the cervical (neck) spine that most likely is caused by age-related changes (wear and tear) in the intervertebral disks and vertebrae of the neck. Research has shown that CSM (cervical spondylotic myelopathy) is the most common cause of non-traumatic weakness in limbs and a persistent stiffness and nagging pain in the neck.
Most often in people above the age of 40, the intervertebral discs get progressively dehydrated and they become more compressible and less elastic. Mineral deposition starts occurring in the intervertebral disc resulting in secondary changes. Although majority of individuals over 40 years of age demonstrate significant radiological evidence of the above changes, only a small percentage develop symptoms of the same. Another noteworthy point is that sometimes the degenerative changes in the cervical spine can be visible on the X-ray as early as in 30s but it does not call for any treatment if the patient is not symptomatic.
The above changes result in compression of the nerves leading to radiculopathy (pain, numbness, weakness and loss of reflex due to compression and irritation of spinal nerve) or compression of the spinal cord resulting in cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) (commonly caused by spinal stenosis resulting in loss of movements and sensation). Both the neural and spinal cord compression will result in radiculomyelopathy.
SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL SPONDYLITIS
Clinically, several groups of symptoms, both overlapping and distinct, are seen:
- Neck and shoulder pain,
- Sub-occipital pain
- Intermittent persistent neck and shoulder pain.
- Pain in the neck, worsening with exertion and relieved, in the early stages, by rest.
- Numbness in fingers
CAUSES OF CERVICAL SPONDYLITIS
- Cervical spondylitis results due to abnormal wear of the cartilage and bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) with degeneration and mineral deposits in the cushions between the vertebrae (cervical disks). This is more common after the age of 40 years
- Repeated occupational trauma e.g., carrying loads on head, professional dancing, gymnastics may contribute
- Very stiff muscles in the cervical region can, over the years, cause a kinking of the cervical spine to the front
- Bad posture and lack of exercise to the cervical region are the key factors which are responsible in a majority of the patients
- Lying in bed with several pillows propping up the neck into an unnatural position can affect the alignment of the cervical column, causing a forward inclination
- Predisposition to development of cervical spondylitis has been reported in certain families; a genetic cause is possible
- Smoking also may be a risk factor
- Conditions like congenitally fused spine, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome etc. may be risk factors for spondylotic disease
- Doing work that demands minute concentration, people who constantly work by bending their neck
- Computer professionals, bike users
- Reclining on sofas with the spine hunched and the neck pushed forward is bad for cervical alignment
- Travelers who travel a long distance and sleep in sitting position
- Telephone operators or persons who often cradle the phone on the shoulder
- Habit of holding neck in one position, drivers who keep the neck in the same position for a long time, watching TV in abnormal positions or when lying down.
DIAGNOSIS OF CERVICAL SPONDYLITIS
Clinical evaluation is immensely important for the diagnosis of cervical spondylitis. The findings can be confirmed by:
X-ray of neck (cervical spine) which may show development of spurs (bony outgrowths) on the vertebrae.
MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) can be done to confirm diagnosis and judge the extent of neural damage, if any.
EMG (Electromyelography) can help in diagnosing cervical radiculopathy.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE FOR CERVICAL SPONDYLITIS
RHUSTOX – Very useful medicine for cervical spondylitis with pain and stiffness of the part which is generally aggravated by first motion, lying posture, cold damp atmosphere and relieve by any warm application. There is numbness or tingling sensation in the arms. Given when pain is more aggravated in the damp cold weather and Keeping the arm in rest position makes feel the person more pain
CIMICIFUGA - Useful when there is pain in the neck portion from over use of fingers like those who types in computer key pads long hours with a odd posture, those who plays piano boards long hours, those who stitch or knit hour together. There is more pain in the neck portion when the patient bend his forward or bowing of head.Also useful for pain and stiffness which is more in the shoulder areas
RANUNCULOUS BULB - Useful for cervical spondylitis when pain is felt over the neck portion and sometimes spread downwards and chest portion too. There is more pain during the morning,any sort of movement a Moving the head also causes pain even a deep breathing increases the pain. The pain is associates with numbness feeling of arms. Like cimicifuga the pain is also originated after a long time of writing on laptop key board, I-pad, or mobile.
KALMIA - It is one of the most important medicine for cervical spondylosis when the pain is associated with numbness of the part. Here the pain origin at the neck portion and spread down wards to arm and fingers. The pain comes in paroxysmal way not like dull persisting pain found in Rhus tox. There is another important symptoms found in kalmia of vertigo or dizziness while looking downwards.
COLOCYNTH - There is pain in the cervical or neck portion which is very much relieved by pressure or massage on that area. The characteristic symptom in colocynth to prescribe in cervical spondylosis is pain arise after some emotional disturbances like getting anger or being offended that impact in his sentiment or suppression of the anger. Those play a trigger factor to start neck pain.
CALCAREA PHOS - Calcarea phos is the remedy generally prescribed when there is any osteophytes growth on the vertebral portion due to osteoarthritis changes. Pain is more during a damp humid weather. Along with clcarea phos the calcarea flour also helpful in bony changes of cervical vertebraes