Cervical Spondylosis Treatment in Ayurveda
The neck also called the cervical spine, is a well-engineered structure of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.1 Both strong and delicate, the cervical spine is an incredible structure that carries the weight of your head, protect the spinal cord, supplies blood to the brain, and allows a wide range of motion, supporting your head and neck movements, such as nodding, turning your head from side to side and looking up and down.2 “Greeva” or “Manya” is referred to the neck or cervical spine in Ayurveda. The stiffness and pain of the neck are the most common symptoms of cervical spondylosis. It also affects the flexibility of the neck thus affecting the head and neck movements. Thus, the article gives an insight into the causative factors of cervical spondylosis and how Ayurveda has explained its approach to treating the condition.
Cervical spondylosis, commonly called arthritis of the neck, is the medical term for age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal discs in your neck. Cervical spondylosis is extremely common. More than 85% of people over the age of 60 are affected. In most cases, cervical spondylosis responds well to conservative treatment that includes medication and physical therapy.3
Signs and symptoms Cervical spondylosis3,4
Most people experience no symptoms. When symptoms do occur,
- Typically include pain and stiffness in the neck
- Tingling, numbness, pain, loss of function in the arms, hands, fingers
- Grinding or popping noise or sensation when you turn your neck
- Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Poor balance
- Difficulty in walking
- Rarely syncope triggers migraine
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Poorly localized tenderness
- Limited range of motion
Causes for Cervical spondylosis4
- Dehydrated discs – by the age of 40, most people’s spinal discs begin drying and shrinking
- Herniated discs – cracks also appear on the anterior spinal discs and begin to bulge
- Stiff ligaments – spinal ligaments can stiffen with age, making the neck less flexible
- Bone spurs – overtime, bone overgrowth called bone spurs may narrow the space for the nerves and spinal cord to pass through and may lead to decreased range of motion in the spine
- Neck injuries – repeated trauma to the spine may contribute to the development of cervical spondylosis
- Patients who carried heavy loads on their heads or shoulders and dancers and gymnasts
- Work activity that puts undue stress on the neck for prolonged periods such as IT professionals sitting in a single position for a long time
- Smoking has been linked to increased neck pain
Tests advised for Cervical spondylosis5
- The doctor conducts a physical examination that includes checking the range of motion in your neck, testing your reflexes and muscle strength to find out if there is pressure on your spinal nerves or spinal cord, and watching you walk to see if the spinal compression is affecting your gait.
- Cervical X-RAY can show changes in the spine, such as bone spurs, that include cervical spondylosis.
- CT or MRI SCANS reveal herniated disks or problems with bones, muscles, tissues, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. Detailed images can help pinpoint areas where nerves might be pinched
Cervical Spondylosis – an Ayurvedic View
Cervical spondylosis can be correlated with Greeva stambha6, Vishwachi6and Avabahuka6in Ayurveda.
Greeva means neck and stambha refers to stiffness. This condition is a primary vataja disorder and reduced kapha dosha. Thus, vitiated vata dries up the kapha in the cervical spine leading to reduced flexibility in the neck,, and neck stiffness is manifested.
Vishwachi, as mentioned in Ayurveda classics, can be correlated with loss of function in the arms, hands,, and fingers is one of the symptoms.
Avabahuka as explained is a condition where there is a contraction of nerves and blood vessels causing numbness in the arms and shoulders.
Etiology for cervical spondylosis is mainly due to an increase in vata dosha and a decrease in kapha dosha caused due to food habits such as intake of excess dry, cold, pungent; fasting for longer periods, and irregular intake of food. Lifestyle habits include staying awake during the night, carrying heavy weights over head and shoulders, heavy physical exercise, and excess walking for longer distances. Stress, fear, and anxiety are a few psychological factors leading to cervical spondylosis.7
Cervical Spondylosis Treatment in Ayurveda
- Snehana (oleation) therapy such as abhyanga (massage), greeva basti (localized treatment for the neck with medicated oil), and Greeva Pichu can be advised
- Abhyanga (massage) therapy – gentle massage is ideal for cervical spondylosis. The oils that can be used are prasarini taila, mahanarayana taila, sahacharadi taila etc.
- Greeva basti – is a localized treatment in the neck region where a small well-like structure is made with the help of black gram flour and the indicated warm medicated oil (temperature of the oil is maintained) is poured into the structure made and allowed to hold by the patient and the procedure continues for a specified time. Medicated oils that can be used are bala ashwagandha taila, karpasasthyadi taila, sahacharadi taila, etc.
- Greeva Pichu (sponging) therapy – a piece of the sterile cotton pad is dipped in warm medicated oil and applied over the neck. Oils that can be used in this therapy are prasarini taila, mahanarayana taila, sahacharadi taila,, etc.
- Swedana (sudation) therapy such as Nadi swedana (where perspiration is induced by passing steam over the body parts by using a special instrument), Patra pinda swedana (inducing perspiration by using a heated pack of herbal leaves), shashtika shali pinda swedana (inducing perspiration by using a heated pack of well-cooked red variety of rice and milk) etc.
- Nitya Virechana (regular mild purgation) therapy can be advised with the intake of gandharva hastadi kashaya before bedtime to induce purgation.
- Nasya (installation of nasal drops) therapy – is the most beneficial treatment for diseases pertaining to the head and neck. Medicated oils that can be used are dhanvantaram 101 taila, anu taila, etc. for a certain period as advised by the physician.
- Basti (medicated enema) therapy is beneficial in relieving vata dosha which causes pain, dryness, tingling sensation, and numbness. A few preparations to mention are pancahtiktha ghritha basti, pancahtiktha ksheera basti.
- Lepa (application of medicated paste) – In conditions where there is pain and swelling in cervical spondylosis application of a paste of herbal drugs over the neck can be beneficial. Ex: kottamchukkadi choorna lepa.
Common Ayurvedic medicines used in treating Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical Spondylosis Treatment in Ayurveda includes the use of Ayurvedic medicines and Ayurvedic treatments depending on the dosha predominance. Here are a few commonly used ayurvedic medicines in treating cervical spondylosis.
- Prasaranyadi Kashayam
- Rasnaerandadi Kashayam
- Sahacharadi Kashayam
- Rasnasaptaka Kashayam
- Yogaraj guggulu
- Mahayogaraj guggulu
- Capsule Cervilon
- Capsule Spondylon
Diet and Lifestyle to be followed during cervical spondylosis treatment
- Calcium: Calcium is an important support structure for our bones. Foods with high calcium content are essential in strengthening bones8
Ex: Milk, dark green vegetables, spinach, peas and beans, soybean, etc.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps our bones to absorb calcium and maintain the health of the bones8
Ex: Milk, egg yolk, mushroom, etc.
- Garlic and ginger are anti-inflammatory and hence help in relieving swelling and pain8
- Foods with abundant omega 3 and vitamin E such as oil seeds, nuts, and fish are also helpful in reducing inflammation9
- The red variety of rice, wheat, butter, and cow’s ghee can be included in a regular diet7
- Cervical collars restrict the movement of the neck which helps to reduce pain
- Neck rotational exercises both clockwise and anti-clockwise and forward and backward bending are beneficial
- Correct posture while reading, writing,, or working on the computer
- Sleep on a firm mattress such that your head is at level
Home remedies for cervical spondylosis 10
- Garlic – Eat a few raw garlic buds on an empty stomach every day in the morning.
- Turmeric – Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of milk and heat it on low flame for around five minutes. Let it cool down. Add a little honey and then drink
- Ginger – Drinking ginger tea twice a day with a little honey mixed into it
- Ghee – Ghee as a regular inclusion in food is beneficial. Preferably cow’s ghee
- Massage a few crushed garlic cloves heated in a pan with vegetable oil followed by a warm bath
- Sesame oil – warm and gently massage
When to see a doctor4
Consult a doctor if you notice a sudden onset of numbness or weakness or loss of bladder or bowel control
Cervical Spondylosis Treatment in Ayurveda includes the use of Ayurvedic medicines and Ayurvedic treatments. Greeva basti and Pichu accompanied by swedana are beneficial treatments to relieve the pain and stiffness of the neck. Nasya therapy and Basti help in relieving morbid kapha dosha which has obstructed vata dosha by penetrating at the cellular level and thus reducing the symptoms such as numbness, tingling sensation, and stiff neck associated with pain. Maintaining correct postures while sitting, and sleeping is very important.
“This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call or visit your doctor.”
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References and citations
- https://www.ayurvedatreatments.co.in/ayurvedatreatments/ – Downloads(Ayurveda E books) Ashtanga hridayanpg.721