Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis in Ayurveda Kerala
Cervical spondylosis, otherwise called as osteoarthritis of neck is one among the common ailments that affect day to day activities of a person. Studies says 25% of adults under the age of 40, 50% of adults over the age of 40, and 85% of adults over the age of 60 showing some evidence of disc degeneration. This is not a life threatening condition but very badly affects quality of life. This disease is first mentioned by C. Aston Key in the late 19th century
Spondylosis, or spinal arthritis, is a medical term for the wear and tear that occurs in the joints and bones of the spine as people get older.
Cervical spondylosis refers to these age related changes that occur in the neck (the cervical spine).
WHO ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE?
- People with a sedentary lifestyle
- Aged persons
- IT professionals or people who are using computers and typing instruments for a prolonged time.
- People with previous injuries to the neck
- People lifting heavy weights regularly
- People maintaining poor postures during sleeping or sitting.
- People with digestive disorders.
- People with the heredity of Arthritis.
- People with hormonal disorders like hypo/ hyper- thyroidism, PCOS, auto immune diseases.
Cervical spondylosis is a disease which affects inter vertebral discs of cervical vertebrae. For understanding the pathology, cervical spine anatomy should be understood. Cervical spine contain 7 vertebrae. A spongy gel like substance is situated between two vertebrae called intervertebral disc(IV Disc)which provide a cushioning effect .Cervical nerves are emerging out from pathways corresponding to spine. In cervical spondylosis, these IV discs and vertebrae are affected in different manner.
Causes can be summarized as below
- Dehydrated discs: In this condition discs may loss its spongy nature and become dry results in direct bone to bone contact which cause pain.
- Intervetebral disc prolapse: Sometime IV discs may slip from vertebral space causing compression to nerve roots resulting in pain, numbness and disabilities.
- Bone spurs: Degeneration of vertebrae sometime results in abnormal growth of bony structure called as spur. This may come in contact with nerve root or spine.
- Pain over the cervical region usually increased by excess movement and strain
- Referred pain: pain may transfer to the back of head, shoulders and upper arms
- Stiffness of neck
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in upper limbs
- Feel of giddiness on the sudden movement of the head
- Pain radiating to the lower back.
Radiological image techniques like X-ray, MRI or CT of cervical spines will give an exact impression about the underlying pathology.
Blood tests for reactive diseases, hormonal imbalance, auto-immune disorders are also helpful.
Usuallyanalgesics are used to reduce pain. NSAIDs are also used to treat cervical spondylosis.
Non medicinal managements include
- Immobilization of neck with help of collars or any other measures to reduce acute pain
- Isometric cervical exercises will help to retain muscular tone
- Mechanical tractions are widely used technique for treating spondylosis.
- Occupational therapies to improve quality of life.
- Lifestyle modifications may involve an evaluation of workplace ergonomics, postural training, neck-school ,stress management etc
if condition not improving with all these measures surgical interventions may be needed.
AYURVEDIC ASPECTS OF CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS
All the degenerative conditions are classified in Ayurveda under Vata disease. Different diseases described in Charak Samhita, Susrutha Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya like Viswachi, Manyasthambha, and Greevagraha, etc have one more symptom similar to Cervical spondylosis.
Ayurveda categorizes Manyasthambha among 80 diseases caused by vatha. Ayurveda opines vatha dosha will be predominant during old age. Aggravation of vatha results in the degeneration of body tissues. In Cervical Spondylosis, Vatha along with kapha stiffens neck (manya) causing pain and disabilities. Due to roughness of vata, vertebrae become dry and rough results in the degeneration of discs and vertebrae causing pain. Kapha causes stiffness and disabilities.
Aches and pain management is one of the strongest positives of Ayurveda. Aim of treatment to restore bone strength and rehydrate them. But just applying some oils will not give you any benefits. Proper medicines with panchakarma therapies associated with yoga and lifestyle management will be beneficial to a great extent.
A wide range of medicines is available in Ayurveda to manage vatha diseases. They will pacify vatha and reduce inflammation and pain. When kapha alleviated, stiffness will be reduced. The application of medicinal pastes(lepa) will be highly beneficial to reduce inflammations. Medicated ghee is given to regain the unctuousness.
This is a well-known drug in Ayurveda which reduces inflammation, it also possesses anti-arthritic properties. Ayurvedic formulations like Gugguluthiktakam Kashayam, Yograja Guggulu,Trayodasanga Guggulu, Kaisore Guggulu, etc are commonly used in the treatment of cervical spondylosis.
Other formulations used for cervical spondylosis are
- Rasnasaptakam Kashayam
- Ashtavargam Kashayam
- Prasarinyadi kashayam
- Dashamoola Rasnadi kashayam
- Dhanadanayanadi kashayam
- Aswagandha choornam
- Prasarinyadi thailam
- Karpasasthyadi thailam
- Prabhanjanam kuzhambu
Nasya is the best choice to treat diseases of the upper part of the body. Nasya simultaneously controls both vatha and kapha.
Nasya stimulates the brain through an olfactory pathway, structures of the Limbic system including Thalamus, Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, Amygdala, and parts of the Basal ganglia which are concentration areas for neuropeptides called nodal points. Nasya can stimulate areas like Amygdala in the Limbic system, thus activating the neuropeptide pathway which helps to reduce pain.
Nasya with a nourishing drug can induce some nourishment to tissues by impregnating Kapha and reduce degeneration thus reduce stiffness.
Other treatment modalities include
- Choorna Pinda Sweda(poultice prepared with medicated powders) to relieve stiffness and inflammation
- Pathra pinda sweda(poultice with herbs), one among the common treatment modality in keraleeya ayurvedic treatment. Researches show patra panda sweda has the following effect on cervical spondylosis
- It relieves para-vertebral muscle spasm
- Strengthens Para-vertebral muscles
- Strengthens intervertebral discs
- Helps repair damaged myelin sheath
- Has a local anti-inflammatory effect
- Greeva vasthi( pooling of medicated oil over neck region), taila dhara(pouring vatha hara oils over neck region) for giving nourishment effect also reduce dehydration of IV discs.
- Njavara kizhi : Gives back muscular strength, relive spasm and regain tone. Also, provide a rejuvenating effect.
- Gentle abhyanga(oil massage) also useful to reduce pain but vigorous massages may aggravate the condition.
Yoga and diet
Simple techniques like moving neck to the front, back and sidewise, rotating shoulders in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions may help to reduce neck pain.
Yoagasanas like bhujangasana, matsyasana, etc can be practiced with the help of a yoga trainer.
Diet includes light food with proper nutrition. Milk is good for bone health. Ghee helps for avoiding degeneration. Leafy vegetables to keep away from constipation and indigestion.
Meat soup and fish for muscular tone and maintaining bony density.
Precautions to be taken by the patients with cervical spondylosis
- Avoid lifting heavy weights and straining the neck
- Take breaks in-between work to give rest to the neck.
- Adequate water intake should be maintained
- Regular exercises
- Weight gaining should be avoided
Ayurveda provides complete care for cervical spondylosis. It prevents the degeneration of bones, also reverses the dehydration of IV discs. Repairing the damaged soft tissues and bone-strengthening reverse the pathology involved. A combination of traditional ayurvedic panchakarma treatments with Kerala special treatments like elakizhi, uzhichil,pizhichil, etc offers a multidimensional benefit to patients suffering from cervical spondylosis.