For three months, Shweta Tawde, a 31-year-old IT professional, had been experiencing stiffness and constant discomfort in the area just below her neck, down to her shoulder. But the Andheri resident had been brushing it aside, blaming it on her pillow and sleeping posture. Once the pain got too excruciating to bear, she visited a doctor, only to learn that she is suffering from Cervical Spondylosis.
Cervical Spondylosis is an arthritis of different joints in the cervical spine, which used to be seen only in older age groups, a few years ago. But, with increasing inactivity and as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, this condition is now emerging among young adults as well.
Neck and shoulder pain is the major symptom of Cervical Spondylosis
“Cervical Spondylosis is natural wear and tear of bones and joints of the neck region, accelerated in the old age. As we grow older, everyone develops these changes, which can be seen on the X-ray. But if you are 30, and your X-ray shows changes similar to that of a 60-year-old, then there is reason to worry. This is being witnessed in the case of many youngsters nowadays,” says Dr Kuldeep Tamboli, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, SSD Hospital, Koperkhairane.
Experts say that it’s unwise to ignore any kind of discomfort in the shoulder-neck region. “Symptoms of cervical spondylosis include symptoms of vascular origin like giddiness or vertigo, as main vessels to the brain travel through cervical spine and they can get compressed. Or the symptoms could be of neural origin like loss of sensations or power in muscles of arm forearm or hand,” informs Dr Avinash Date,CDHA Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Seven Hills Hospital.
Dr Date also shares that sometimes, radiculopathy, a secondary form of cervical spondylosis can also strike at a young age, which mainly includes shoulder muscle pain.
The doctor explains that lack of proper standing, sitting and sleeping postures, and proper ergonomical working heights are the most pressing causes of this condition. “Also, if you are suffering from frequent cold and sinusitis that can aggravate this condition as well,” warns Dr Date.
Treatment of Cervical Spondylosis depends primarily on severity of the compression and symptoms. But treatment of radiculopathy includes physiotherapy, restrictions and medicines, informs Dr Date, adding that restrictions include avoiding lifting weights and avoiding cold AC temperatures, swimming or taking bath in cold water.
Simple exercises to prevent Cervical Spondylosis
Neck Stretch routine:
Sit up tall with a correct posture. Roll the shoulders up and back. Inhale and lift the head up towards the sky. Exhale and drop the head toward the chest. Repeat this movement with your breath 10 to 15 times. Then bring the head back to the center and drop the right ear towards the right shoulder. Repeat on the left side and continue for 10 to 15 repetitions. Roll the head in circles to the right and then to the left. Drop the right ear towards the right shoulder and press the right hand gently into the left side of the forehead to increase the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Source: Shalini Bhargava, director and fitness expert at JG’s Fitness Centre
Certain yoga postures such as Cobra and Bridge pose help to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the neck. Perform Bridge pose lying on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press the feet into the floor and lift the hips up toward the sky. Clasp the hands underneath the body and straighten the arms. For Cobra pose, start on your stomach. Bring your hands to either side of your chest, press the hands into the floor and roll the shoulders back. Lift the upper body off the floor and press the tops of the feet into the floor. Elongate the neck and move the tips of the ears back toward the shoulders.
Isometric exercises are those in which there is no visible movement but the muscle is still strengthened by holding it in a static contraction. There are certain Isometric exercises that can strengthen the neck muscles. Remember to breathe normally (don’t hold breath) as you do these. For each exercise, press or hold for 5-6 counts, then relax.
1) Press forehead into palms, pushing through the neck muscles. The neck presses against the palms and that resists any movement.
2) Press hand against the side of the head. Try to bring ear to the shoulder, while the palm is resisting any motion.
3) Press both hands against the back of head. Try to pull head up, towards the ceiling, while the palms resist any motion.
4) Press hand against your temple. Try to turn the chin to the shoulder, while the hands resist any motion.
Cobra pose, amongst few other yoga asanas and light excercises, help prevent this condition
Eat right to stay well
>> Alcohol will affect the deposition of calcium in the bones and makes people susceptible to osteoporosis, bone-softening disease, and accelerate the degenerative cervical spine.
>> Walnuts, cornus, black sesame seeds can be taken under the guidance of a doctor, for strong bones and muscles, kidney and joint degeneration delaying effect.
>> Drink a glass of barley water daily to help remove toxins in the body. This will also help in natural motion, resulting in removal of waste material. Copper element present in this drink will help in keeping the spine healthy.
>> Eating 3 to 4 spoons of green gram (pesarlu), 10 grains of soybeans and other sprouts of cereals will help a lot.
>> Papaya, pomegranate, pineapple and other fruits will make bones and muscles strong and healthy.
>> Good results can be witnessed by consuming leafy vegetables, daily.
>> Taking finger millet soup will provide necessary calcium to the body and reduce degeneration of bones. Abundant Vitamin E present in them will improve the health of muscles.
>> Drinking 3 to 5 litres of water daily will help in removing waste materials from the body and improving purification process in the body resulting in strength of the muscles.