If you hear a cracking noise as you turn your head, or feel pain around the neck that becomes more pronounced when you tighten your neck muscles or move your head back and forth, these are dangerous indications that you might be suffering from “cervical spondylosis”. The disorder can occur as one ages, especially if it is left untreated. The more you wait, the more difficult it will be to treat. So, prevention is the best option.
According to established medical information, a person’s cervical bones move more than 600 times every hour. In addition, the bones have to withstand pressure, torque, stress and strain due to the body movements during the day. These are enough to cause cervical spondylosis, which is common among the elderlies. However, sometimes the disorder is also found prematurely, in the 35 – 40 age group. At the onset, the flexibility of the cervical joints gradually reclines, making it difficult to turn the head around. For people 60 and above, sometimes the condition makes it difficult to turn the head more than 90 degrees and, if forced, may cause other complications as well. Further, the deterioration of cervical joints due to aging can cause bone spurs around the joints. If the spurs are too big, they can cause shooting pain down the arms, hands and fingers. In worse cases, they can lead to numbness in fingers or arms, which causes the arms and hands to become weakened.
Cervical Spondylosis Treatment
There are many methods to treat cervical spondylosis: for example, physical therapy, therapeutic massages to reduce the pain, or using a neck support. In severe cases, it is recommended that you consult a doctor promptly for an injection to help reduce inflammation around the neck. Worse, if you feel pain, numbness or weakness down an arm, these are dangerous signs and you may require an MRI scan to properly diagnose the condition. Ultimately, if the symptoms are severe, you may need a surgery to treat the nerves that are being compressed by the bone spurs.
Cervical Spondylosis Prevention
In any case, the best option is to avoid cervical spondylosis. That is, to prevent it in the first place by regularly exercising your neck such that the tendons and muscles around the neck remain flexible. This may be done as follows: turn your head in the clockwise direction 3 times and counter-clockwise another 3 times (dropping the full weight of your head for each turn); tilt your head down while keeping your shoulders straight up, flex your head from side to side, then tilt your head toward the back as much as possible, then repeat the routine 10 times; finally, straighten your head and slowly turn it to the right then the left 10 times, gradually quicken the movements.
It is also important to adjust your postures during the day, such as:
- Avoid sitting in the same position for an extended period. Change your posture frequently.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Avoid sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.
- Select a pillow that is appropriate for your neck. You may consider using a small support pillow under your neck, to help relieve pressure on the neck.
- Avoid sleeping where an air-conditioner or a fan blows directly at you.
- Keep your head straight while standing or walking. Do not tilt your head up or down.
- Do not tilt your head down while reading, as this will increase more load on the neck muscles than normal. It is better to hold the book up to the eye level by propping against a pile of books or a box.
- While driving, adjust your seat appropriately close to the steering wheel.
- To help relieve pressure on the neck muscles each day, place a hot towel around the neck while gently massaging it.