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Cervical spondylitis

Spondylosis (also known as cervical spondylosis or cervical osteoarthritis) is the degeneration of spinal discs in the neck. While it is a common condition among older people, symptoms develop slowly over time and vary greatly from person to person. When symptoms are affecting day to day activities or have an acute onset, further evaluation and treatment is indicated. The best thing you can do to know if you have spondylosis is to see a doctor regularly for health checkups, especially when you pass the age of 60. Common symptoms to make note of include monitoring for stiffness, numbness, or pain in your neck or back. Look for neck and back pain. Spondylosis often has no symptoms. However, if it does produce symptoms, pain along the neck and spine is one of the most common. This pain is the result of the spinal discs dehydrating and creating friction between the vertebral bones and/or pressure on the nerves. The pain in your back or neck pain may also radiate to your limbs.
  • Your pain may also get worse when you are sneezing, coughing, or laughing.
  • Pain is most commonly felt at nighttime.
  • Neck pain may flare up and then temporarily get better. This intermittent pain might be brought on by aggravation to or intense use of the neck or back. The pain might get worse over time and/or become chronic.
  • Instead of pain, you might also experience tingling or numbness in your limbs. This is due to the pressure on the nerve roots and symptoms are specific to the area that is being compressed.
  • If your nerves are being affected, you may also have a burning sensation, pins and needles, or a prickling sensation.
Recognize stiffness in your neck and back. Stiffness, along with pain, is one of the most common symptoms of spondylosis. You might feel stiff in the morning, especially, then gain more mobility as the day wears on. Your stiffness might make it impossible to bend over or turn your head in certain positions.
  • You’ll likely have trouble moving your head from side to side.
  • The stiffness associated with spondylosis occurs due to the slow deterioration of a joint’s cartilage.
  • Stiffness means that it is difficult for you to move the joint; it seems to ‘stick.’
  • Neck stiffness associated with spondylosis usually gets worse over time. It usually occurs after a night’s rest.
  • Headache may also occur, usually starting at the back of the neck and radiating to the top of the forehead.
Look for a lack of coordination. You might have trouble catching things, lifting your arms or hands, or squeezing something tightly in your hand. This lack of coordination might also result in a lack of balance.
  • Be careful of falling when you have spondylosis. Move slowly and cautiously.
Monitor your bathroom habits. If you notice any significant changes in your bathroom habits, then this may indicate that there is a problem. Change in bowel or bladder habits, such as being unable to go to the bathroom when you have the sensation or losing control unexpectedly, are warning signs that a part of the spinal cord may be compressed. This is considered an urgent reason for evaluation or re-evaluation.

Stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Eating right and maintaining a healthy weight are two easy things you can do to reduce your chances of developing spondylosis and minimize the impact of the condition once it has developed. Try to get at least one hour of exercise each day.
  • Do light exercise that does not twist or negatively impact your back, such as gentle yoga. Avoid contact sports like football, hockey, and rugby. You should also avoid lifting heavy weights. Instead, go for run, walk, or bike ride.
  • Eat a healthy diet composed primarily of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, with a small amount of lean protein. Avoid eating meat, fast food, and processed foods, which are heavy in sugar, salt, and fat. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day and avoid soda and sweet drinks.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking could increase your neck pain. If you already smoke, invest in nicotine patches or gum to reduce your cravings. Cut your cigarette intake down gradually. For instance, smoke half a pack instead of a full pack each day for a couple weeks. Then cut down to one pack every three days for two more weeks. Continue to reduce your cigarette consumption in this way until it reaches zero.
Find a less physical job.If you have a job that puts a lot of wear and tear on your back, try to find another line of work that is less physically challenging. Bending, twisting, and straining your back can increase your chances of developing spondylosis down the line. If possible, try to find another job with the same company you work for now. For instance, move to a desk job instead of doing unpacking, lifting, and similarly physical work.
  • Even desk jobs, however, can have their own risks. Sitting all day in one position with your neck craned toward a computer can lead to neck and back pain, too. Ensure your chair provides an adequate amount of back support. Adjust your position frequently to avoid developing cramps and pain in your back and neck. Walk about the office – even just a short distance — every 30 minutes or so.
Manage prior medical conditions. There are a number of medical procedures that can increase your chances for developing spondylosis later. Arthritis, a ruptured or slipped disk, fractures due to osteoporosis could all increase your risk for spondylosis. Talk to your doctor about treatment for these and related conditions, especially those related to neck or back injuries. Follow your treatment plan in order to avoid developing or worsening spondylosis.

Seeing Your Doctor

Make a list of symptoms. When you begin noticing the symptoms of spondylosis, write them down, including the day, time, length of the symptom, and the activity that brought the symptom about. Your doctor can use this information to better understand your medical history and develop a treatment plan for you.
  • In addition to a list of symptoms, get information about your family’s medical history. Spondylosis may be inherited, so if others in your family have a history of spondylosis or other back troubles, your doctor might use this to make a diagnosis.
See a doctor. If you have any symptom of spondylosis, it may or may not indicate the actual presence of spondylosis. However, even if you do not have spondylosis, it is important to get these conditions checked out by a medical professional, since they could indicate another, equally serious condition.
  • Many people with spondylosis experience no symptoms at all. It is important to get regular health checkups, especially after the age of 60, when most people show some signs of spondylosis in x-rays and medical examinations.
  • Let your doctor know of any medications you’re taking as well.

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