Cervical Spondylosis – a common cause of neck pain.

Cervical in an english word that means 'of or relating to a neck or cervix'. Spondylosis means degenerative changes of the spine. So, Cervical spondylosis actually means degenerative changes in the cervical spine which is the neck region of the spine. It is a very common cause of chronic neck pain and is usually seen in elderly patients but due to today's tech driven world, lot of you might be having a sedentary job or have a job where you have to be on your screens for prolonged periods. With the advent of smart phones almost every one who is engaged with their device also have to bend their neck again and again through the day to check the device and that also may lead to neck pain and degenerative changes in the cervical spine.

Our spine is made of vertebral column and there are 33 vertebral bodies that constitutes the vertebral column. The vertebral bodies are joined with each other with a jelly like structure which is intervertebral disc. There are other joints also that join the adjacent vertebras. There are para-spinal muscles that support the vertebral column and there are ligaments that support the vertebras. There is spinal canal with in which lies spinal cord. From spinal cord arises nerve radicles that emerge out out of the vertebral column through intervertebral foramen and from both the sides.

Please check the diagram of the normal cervical vertebral column for clear understanding of the structures.

Pain from any pathology in the structure might be reflected in the neck. This pain might increase :

  • on bending the neck

  • on straining the neck

  • on experiencing sudden jerk to neck.

  • might radiate to the shoulder and upper limbs

  • might be associated with numbness and tingling or stretching sensation in the upper limbs

Let us look at the common causes of the cervical spondylosis

  • Aging population especially people > 60years of age are at predisposition for this condition.

  • Being overweight and not exercising

  • Exercises like weight lifting and advance yoga exercises that included a lot of bending of the spine if not done under supervision might lead to spinal injury and might predispose to cervical spondylosis

  • Having a job that requires heavy lifting or a lot of bending and twisting

  • Past neck injury (often several years before)

  • Past spine surgery

  • Severe arthritis

  • Ruptured or slipped disc

Management of the neck pain can be non pharmacological and pharmacological. It depends on the severity of the symptoms and the pathology. If the simple strategy does not work, then it is prudent to go your health care provider who will examine you and decide on the further course of action for your pain management.

Non pharmacological measures include – rest to the neck, taking precautions like not bending the neck and avoiding lifting weights especially in the acute period. Hot fomentation might offer temporary relief in pain and can be done safely at home. Make sure you keep the heating pad warm and not hot lest you burn your skin.

Once the pain is better – you may try neck isometric exercises under supervision of you physical therapist. The exercises are easy but you still need to make sure that are done properly to provide you with optimum results.

Few simple exercises that have been suggested by CDC are as in the given images

1. Neck flexor strengthening :

Sit in an erect posture and keep your neck straight. Interlace your fingers and join your hands and bring them to your forehead. Now put pressure on the forehead while maintaining your neck position. Keep the pressure for the count of 10. Repeat 10 sets.

2. Neck extensor strengthening : Sit in an erect posture and keep your neck straight. Interlace your fingers and join your hands and bring them to nape of your neck. Find the point of maximal protrusion in the skull bone and put the pressure on the head at this point while keeping the head in the same position. Feel the pressure and hold the pressure for the count of 10. Repeat 10 sets.


a. Side Bending : Sit in an erect posture and keep your neck straight. Put your right hand on the right side of your head. Try to bring your head down to your right shoulder while pushing up with your upright right hand. Maintain the position of your head. Hold for the count of 10. Repeat 10 sets

b. Now repeat 3. a with the left hand placed on the left side of the head.

4. Neck Rotation : Hold your head and neck erect. Put your left hand at chin level and turn your head slightly to the right. Put your right hand on the right side of your face. Turn your head to the right while pushing it back with your right hand

Doing these exercises regularly may help you ease your neck pain. But in case the pain persists, then kindly go and visit your health care provider for further evaluation and management.

References : https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionaryhttps://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000436.htmhttps://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/cervical-osteoarthritis-cervical-spondylosis#1http://www.sld.cu/galerias/pdf/sitios/rehabilitacion/isometric_exercises_for.pdf

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