CERVICAL SPONDYLITIS-A nagging pain in the neck
Spondylitis is a disorder characterized by inflammatory changes in the spine. Spondylitic changes can affect all parts of the spine and based on the site of affection there are three variants, viz.:
ü Cervical spondylitis-charecterized by spondylitic changes in the cervical spine(C1 to C7)
ü Ankylosing spondylitis- characterized by spondylitic changes in the Thoracic spine(T1 to T12)
ü Lumbar spondyltits- characterized by spondylitic changes in the Lumbar spine(L1 to L5)
Spondylitis does not have a simple explanation and reams of research papers have been published on the subject. The reasons for its occurrence are multiple and in this article we try to give a simple idea about cervical spondylitis.
Before we move on to understanding cervical Spondylitis (CS), there is a need to understand the vertebral column.
The vertebral column also known as the backbone consists of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 Thoracic vertebrae, 5 Lumbar vertebrae, 5 sacral vertebrae and 4 coccygeal vertebrae. It extends from the cranium to the coccyx and the bones forming this column are separated from each other by soft structures known as intervertebral discs. The backbone and its components are held together by an intricate arrangement of cartilages, ligaments, muscles and tendons. You can compare it with a multi structured building supported by different structures.
The vertebral column encases the spinal cord and prevents damage to the very sensitive spinal cord just like the skull bones prevent injury to the brain.
Importance of a healthy backbone:
In an organization if there is somebody very important, he/she is referred to as the backbone of that organization. If that person quits, the organization will find it very difficult to replace him/her. This is an example to demonstrate the importance of the backbone for the health of a humanbeing.If it is affected by any problem, the repercussions are very painful severe.
Cervical spondylitis-What happens?
Degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc leads to cervical spondylitis.Thinning and weakening of the intervertebral discs leads to reduction in the intervertebral space. Osteophyte formation takes place leading to impingement of the nerves that leave the spine for other parts of the body.
Signs and symptoms of CS:
ü Pain and discomfort in the neck
ü Radiating pain in the arms
ü Scapular pain
ü Shoulder pain
ü Giddiness in severe cases due to pressure over the vertebral arteries
ü Weakness and pin pricking sensation in either or both of the arms
Who is more prone to suffer from CS:
ü Software professionals are more prone to CS
ü Constant forward bending position
ü Repeated movements of the upper arm
ü Puts pressure on the neck and shoulders
ü We can include DTP operators or anybody who has high usage of computer or laptops
ü Women above 40 and women who have experienced premature menopause
ü A detailed examination by the physician will reveal the restricted and painful movements of the cervical spine
ü X-rays will help in the diagnosis by visualizing the degenerative changes in the cervical spine
Simple tips for prevention of CS in Ayurveda:
ü Apply oil over the scalp and massage
ü Use Til oil(Sesame oil) or coconut oil
ü Medicated oils such as Bhringaraja taila, Triphaladi taila can be used
ü Also instill a few drops of bilwa taila in the ear once in a fortnight
ü Apply oil over the body and especially the spine
ü Gently massage the part after applying the oil
ü Use medicated oils such as Mahanarayana taila or ksheerabala taila
q Combination of Ayurveda and Yoga works well
q Kashayams and pills prepared out of rasna,eranda and guggulu are commonly used. These are Vata shamaka in nature
q Oil massage(Abhyanga) and leaf poultice massage (Elakizhi or pathra panda sweda) give good relief in acute pain conditions
q Greeva vasthi-a procedure of using medicated oil for fomentation over the neck helps strengthen the bones
Medicines for CS in Ayurveda:
CS is considered as a Vata Vyadhi and all the medicines aim at establishing/restoring balance of Vata dosha. Some of the commonly used medicines are:
ü Guggulu thikthaka ghritha
ü Maharasnadi kashaya
ü Yogaraja guggulu
ü Gandha taila
ü Ksheerabala taila 101 avarthi and dhanvantaram tailam 101 avarthi
ü Simhanada guggulu
The right combination of medicines will be prescribed by the vaidya based on the prakruti of the patient and the severity of problem.
Panchakarma treatment for CS:
Since CS is considered as a Vata Vyadhi, all the panchakarma procedures aim at establishing/restoring balance of Vata dosha
ü Abhyanga and swedana –this is the basic treatment adopted to improve the blood circulation and to bring in flexibility of the spine.
ü Nasya karma-Instillation of medicated nasal drops helps strengthen the cervical spine and bring back normalcy of Vata dosha
ü Vasthi karma-is one of the most important treatment procedures to restore balance of vata dosha. Vasthi is the administration of different medicated oils and medicated decoctions through the rectal route.The number and type of medicated enema to be given is decided by the physician.
ü Avoid vata aggravating food articles such as chana,green peas, beans, green chillies,excess of spicy pickles
ü Take adequate quantity of dairy products such as buttermilk, milk and ghee in your diet
ü If you are suffering from constipation, take ½ to 1 tsp of medicated castor oil at bedtime along with warm water
ü Avoid extreme backward bending postures or movements while doing exercise or yoga
ü Continuously sitting in front of the computer without a break. Take small breaks in between and do simple exercises of the neck
ü Big and hard pillows
ü Asking your barber to relieve the pain by neck manipulating movements, this may be an invitation to disaster sometimes
ü Uneven mattresses
ü Watching TV for long durations
ü Sitting in awkward positions
If you are confused about the entire medical jargon written above, let me give you some very important advice which you should not miss for prevention of CS and if you are already suffering from it, to prevent from its aggravation:
ü Have a proper sleep waking cycle-the simplest rule but very difficult to follow-early to bed and early to rise keeps your bones healthy
ü Apply medicated oil to your scalp thrice in a week and have medicated oil bath once in a week
ü Do simple neck exercises regularly
ü Try to reduce the time you spend in front of your desktop or laptop