Pain Management For Cervical Spondylosis

30 Oct Pain Management For Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is a condition that affects the cervical spine, or the section of spine that runs from the skull through the neck. While approximately 90% of people will have some form of cervical spondylosis, the majority will never experience any symptoms. For those who do, however, pain management is essential.

The condition occurs naturally as the body ages. Spinal disks begin to shrink later in life and this can cause a narrowing of the space for the spinal cord. Bone spurs and arthritis symptoms may also develop. The damage is evident on X-rays, even on those who do not have any symptoms.

Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis

For most people, a stiff or sore neck is the only effect they will notice when their spinal disks dehydrate and shrink. However, for others, the spinal cord space may be reduced, causing pinched nerves or even a compressed spinal cord.

Common symptoms include neck pain that increases or spreads to the shoulder blade, upper arm and even down to the fingers. The soreness may become worse with sneezing or coughing, while leaning the head back or after standing or sitting. Headaches are also quite common, particularly at the back of the head and the base of the skull.

More extreme cases may cause a loss of bladder/bowel control, problems walking, coordination issues and weak or numb extremities. Patients may have a tingling sensation in their hands and feet.

Common Causes and Risk Factors

Most people will have some form of neck related arthritis by the time they are in their 60’s, but some are more likely to develop it earlier in life. Anyone who is overweight is at risk, particularly if they also have a prior neck injury or arthritis. Extra weight can strain muscles and increase wear and tear on bones. Previous injuries or surgeries of the spine can also increase risk.

Medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis, can increase the wear and tear on the spine. In the neck, this can rapidly lead to degeneration of the disks. Occupations that require plenty of movement, particularly bending, twisting and lifting heavy items can be a factor, as well.

Cervical Spondylosis Treatments and Pain Management

Doctors will often prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) to combat pain and discomfort in earlier stages of cervical spondylosis. Painkillers such as ibuprofen can help with pain and will reduce any inflammation. Muscle relaxants or prednisone injections may also be used.

Exercise may reduce chronic neck pain caused by obesity, but neck exercises are also helpful for strengthening muscles. Physical therapy can be helpful. In some cases, neck traction can reduce pinching of nerves and ease discomfort.

More advanced cases may require surgery. This is usually a last resort used when the condition is affecting the extremities. Surgery will create more space for the spinal cord and restore function to all limbs.

Aging takes its toll on everyone, but for those suffering from chronic neck pain, pain management may be necessary. It is important to find a good doctor who has experience treating this type of pain to experience the best results.

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