Neck and back aches are some of the unsavoury by products of increasing age. A common ailment with these effects that plagues people over the age of fifty is Cervical Spondylosis or cervical osteoarthritis, also known as neck arthritis.
What is Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical means of or relating to a neck or cervix, and spondylosis may be defined as a painful condition that is caused due to the deterioration of the intervertebral discs. Thus cervical spondylosis can be succinctly described as a painful condition that effects the joints and discs of the cervical spine found in the neck. It is mostly caused due to the wear and tear of the cartilage and bone of the cervical spine.
The Ayurvedic Angle:
Ayurveda attributes cervical osteoarthritis or Grivasandhigatvata also known as Greeva Graham to an increase in Vata Dosh. Ayurveda sees human body to be comprised of doshas, which can be broadly defined as bodily energies that govern the mental and biological processes of the human body. The three main dohsas are Pitta comprise of fire and water, Vata – space and air, and Kapha – earth and water. A state of misbalance between these doshas leads to physical and mental problems. Vata is the Ayurvedic humour that represents air. Vata dosh in the human body cause deterioration of muscle and joints in the neck which may lead to Grivasandhigatvata.
Effected Age Group
Both Ayurvedic and allopathic research concur that the middle aged an elderly people are most liable to develop neck arthritis.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
- Age: The discs and joints in the cervix (neck) degenerate with age due to normal wear and tear of bone and cartilage in it.
- Bad Posture: Besides age, bad posture while working or sleeping may cause neck arthritis. Most of us remain tied to our desks with not enough exercise. Long hours at desk jobs, constant squinting and hunching over our computer screens, lack of proper exercise may lead to an early onset of neck arthritis.
- Injury: Injury may cause spondylosis in the neck as well.
- Loss of Water Content in Spinal Disks: Dehydration of the disks in the cervical spine weakens it, causing the collapse of disc spaces and loss of disc height. With increase of pressure on facet joints in the neck spine, it begins to deteriorate and develop arthritis.
- Bone Spurs: If the cartilage that covers the joints wears away completely, the body compensates for this loss by growing a new bone in the facet joints which help support the vertebrae. This bone overgrowth or bone spurs leads to narrowing of the space for nerves and spinal cord to pass through leading to a medical condition called stenosis. These bone spurs have a role in the beginning of cervical osteoarthritis.
How Cervical Spondylosis problem occur according to Ayurveda
Greeva Graham is caused due to an increase of Vata Dosha which disturbs the equilibrium of the human body which leads to dryness and subsequent deterioration of Kapha Dosha and degeneration of Sleshaka Kapha responsible for cushioning between intervertebral joints, the wearing away of which leads to Greeva Graham.
Following are somethings that cause increased Vata Dosha which in turn may lead to onset of Grivasandhigatvata.
- Intake of food that is dry, light, cold, or leads to gas.
- Ingesting stale food.
- Large gap between meals or fasting.
- Eating small meals.
- Staying awake till late in the night and sleeping during the day.
- Excessive partake of sour, bitter, or astringent food items.
- Excess of sexual, mental, or physical activities.
Besides misbalanced Vata in the human anatomy following are some of the other causes of this ailment
- Excessive stress, grief, anger, fear.
- Loss of interest in work.
- Lack of exercise due to sedentary life style.
- Increasing age.
Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis
- Chronic Pain.
- Stiffness with gradual loss of flexibility in the neck.
- Severe to mild headaches that start in the neck.
- Pain around shoulder blades or in the arms.
- Difficulty or inability to turn the head or bend the neck. Coughing or sneezing sometimes worsens the symptoms.
- Muscle spasms.
- Sensory loss and or numbness in arms and legs
- Vertigo, especially while bending downwards.
Ayurvedic Cure of Spondylosis
Though there are abundant allopathic medicines, treatments and corrective surgeries available to cure this cervical osteoarthritis. Most of these have some nasty side effects that should deter one from blindly opting for it. Ayurveda provides a brilliant and side effect free alternative to the prevalent treatments offered by allopathy. Some of these are:-
- Intake of one tablespoon of castor oil twice a week helps in balancing the vatas and clearing the body of ama or toxins
- Hot compress messages.
- Application of oil made with roasting crushed garlic and ajwain/carom seed in one teaspoon of mustard oil, on the affected areas. Follow this up with gentle message with hot salt potli.
Following a Balanced Ayurvedic Diet
- Diet plays a very significant role in treating disorders in Ayurveda. Proper intake of fruits, salads, and steamed vegetables goes a long way in curing Greeva Graham. One should avoid some food items namely, processed and canned food items , sour, spicy, bitter, and oily food products, confectionery or bakery goods, alcoholic beverages , and smoking.
- Ayurvedic Panchakarma consists of five procedures that include intake of balanced diet, oil messages and herbal therapy. It is performed to detoxify and heal the body naturally specially through strengthening the body’s immune system. Panchakarma therapy is found to be very effective in curing cervical spondylosis. It has many treatments that specifically target curing neck ailment.
- Tailadhara, Podikkizhi, Kativasthi, Nhavarakkizhi , Ilakkizhi are some other therapies used in Ayurveda that help relieve the distressing symptoms of Grivasandhigatvata.
- Ashwagandha or as Indian Ginseng : Ashwagandha is a known anti-inflammatory and anti-stress herb with the added benefit of reducing the chances of cancer. A strong muscle relaxant Ashwagandha improves the muscles and bones by increasing bone density, muscle strength.
- Hot potli oil massages
- Shallaki or Boswellia serrata: A popular natural anti-inflammatory herb also known as ‘Salai Guggul’ is very effective in relieving pain during spondylosis.
- Guggul or Commiphora mukul: Another potent anti-inflammatory agent used in Ayurveda, it has and immediate analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
- Sonth or Dry Ginger: Besides reducing soreness and inflammation it has a positive effect on the digestive and respiratory system and helps to control vata
Practicing Yoga and Following a Timely Routine can help:
- To maintain a healthy body it is very important to make proper exercise a permanent part of our lives. Following a timely eating and sleeping pattern is the first step towards curing cervical spondylosis. Avoiding late hour and followingearly to bed and early to rise to heart is definite step in the right direction.
- Regular practice of Yoga is effective in eradicating many a stubborn ailments. Matsyasana , Bhujangasana , Makarasana, Ardha Naukasana , Ardha Salbhaasana, Shanshank-Bhujangasana, Marjariasana, are some yoga asanas that provide immense relief from spondylosis of neck by strengthening and improving the flexibility of the spine.
So if you want to follow a pain free life, embrace the free cures offered by the rich Indian medical tradition of Ayurveda. For maximum benefit and speedy recovery it is advisable to consult a competent and certified doctor of Ayurveda.
Wishing you the best of health and a pain free life! Take care!