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Cervical Spondylosis Problems

Can Cervical Spondylosis be cured permanently?

Understanding Cervical Spondylosis

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Cervical spondylosis is a fancy medical word for “degenerative arthritis of the neck.”

… But what does that mean? Is it just because you’re getting older? Does it mean there’s nothing you can do about it? Does it mean that your health is going to get worse? Is it dangerous?

I once did an assessment for a 75 year old lady, who started to experience nasty headaches 6 months earlier. She had a few tests done, and the diagnosis came back as cervical spondylosis. And then someone, whose opinion she trusted told her that her problem was the arthritis in her neck and that there was nothing she could do about it and the only solution was to take painkillers for the rest of her life.

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(I’m not joking or exaggerating. This happened in 2018!)

I was utterly HORRIFIED and comprehensively reject everything that this person told her!!

Consider just this one thing for a moment. Arthritis doesn’t just magically appear in a few months. So if this 75 year old lady only just stated to experience headaches, does it make any sense that the arthritis was the CAUSE of her pain?

There are a LOT of myths and misinformation about cervical spondylosis out there. In this article, I hope to clean many of those us, and also offer a natural solution that can help you if you have been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis.

If you are the kind of person who believes

    •    that there is always something that can be done

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Degenerative Neck Arthritis

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    •    that you are not a victim and that you don’t have to suffer needlessly no matter what you have going on 

    •    that you can improve your quality of life

    •    that natural treatment for cervical spondylosis is better option

    •    that prevention and preventing cervical spondylosis is better than trying to cure it then you are in the right place.

 

Cervical Spondylosis Symptoms

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Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition of the spine. I use the analogy of mechanical rust from years of abnormal wear and tear.

Let’s say that you have a car that you bought in 1975. BTW, this will be an analogy for your body for the rest of this article. :-) You’ve been driving the same car ever since … but no one ever really explained how gears work. And so you’ve been driving in 1st or maybe 2nd gear the entire time, even when you go 100kph.

What is the state of your transmission? It won’t blow up, but it will certainly have be ground down.

It’s similar with cervical spondylosis. As the result of PHYSICAL INJURIES THAT YOU DID NOT FIX EARLIER IN LIFE your neck has started to show signs of wear and tear.

    •    Bony spurs where your body has lain down addition bone in order to stabilise and protect damaged areas

    •    Disc narrowing and bulging where the extra pressure has caused things to narrow

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Neck Pain Problems

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    •    Foramina or central canal narrowing where the nerves that go to your hands leave your neck

When this happens, you are more susceptible to a range of pain, muscle and neurological conditions:

    •    headaches or migraines

    •    neck pain, shoulder pain or radiating pain, tingling or numbness into your hands or fiends

    •    lower back pain and sciatica (I will explain how that works later in this article)

    •    jaw pain and problems

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    •    dizziness or vertigo

    •    or other neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis, neuralgias, etc.

But does this mean that cervical spondylosis CAUSES these problems? The answer is emphatically NO IT DOES NOT. Just because you have degenerative arthritis in your neck does not guarantee that you will experience these health problems.It certainly does increase your chances of experiencing these issues, but it is not a guarantee.

It is like wit genes and the emerging field of science known as epigenetics. Just because you HAVE a certain gene does not guarantee that you will develop a certain disease. 

So you do not need to be the victim of your circumstances, and even if you do have cervical spondylosis plus at lease one of these conditions, there is likely something that you still CAN DO ABOUT IT.

 

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Cervical Spondylosis Causes

The original cause of cervical spondylosis is an OLD INJURY. Something happened in the past, and your body healed! … But it healed less than ideally.

Major injuries include things like broken bones and dislocations. Minor injuries include things like skin scrapes and bruises.  BUT HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THE ARRAY OF THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THE MIDDLE?

The joints in your neck are designed to move. Your neck is the most flexible part of your spine: especially the two vertebrae at the very top, the C1 (atlas ) and the C2 (axis). The tradeoff for this amount of flexibility is that your neck is also the weakest part of your spine.

As a result, if you suffer an injury, it is possible for your to tweak the muscles and ligaments that support your neck. You may feel still of sore for a day, and then the problem seems to heal on its own.

… But what if it doesn’t?

Each joint in your neck has a range of movement of approximately 1cm. One millimetre is equivalent to the thickness of your fingernail. That’s it! So consider all the wonderful, awful injuries that you may have experienced in your life: car accidents, trips, falls, spills, etc.

If the alignment of any of these vertebrae shifts by even a couple of millimetres - nothing massive, just 2 millimetres - that can represent a 20% disruption in the normal function of the joints in your neck.

Now, your body will attempt to self-correct these injuries. But let me ask you: what if it can’t? If you break your arm, your body will heal whether or not you have it cast. However, if you don’t have the bone set right, is it possible that it won’t heal correctly and that it will affect you now for the rest of your life?

That is how cervical spondylosis starts. Studies have shown that degenerative changes on a microscopic scale begin in as little as 4-6 week following an injury like I’ve just described. Now, these little changes might not seem like much. However, if you allow them to add up like compound interest, over months, years or decades, you can develop much bigger problems.

Now, unless you have discovered a cure for gravity, time, or the stresses of daily living (… and of course, I’m being facetious), there is no way to go back and undo the original injury. Typically when cervical spondylosis has developed on a macro scale, it doesn’t spontaneously resolve.

That said, there ARE documented cases where people’s cervical spondylosis, degeneration and disc damage has reversed!! More likely, however, it is still possible to take the stress off the degenerated areas so that they can move freer, which takes the strain off the muscles and ligaments, and that allows you to experience relief

 

What to do about Cervical Spondylosis

You may have had a recent x-ray or CT scan. and the report came back mentioned cervical  spondylosis. Often, it comes back as being “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” 

There is NOT a correlation between the severity of cervical spondylosis and the symptoms you experience.

I’ve taken care of many people with awful looking cervical spondylosis, and the only thing that they say is, “It’s a little stiff in the morning.” Other people, who have only a sliver of damage say that they are in agony all the time!

In addition, I’ve seen 80 year olds, whose necks look immaculate! And I’ve seen 30 year olds who already show severe signs of cervical spondylosis. In other words, it is NOT just a matter of getting older!

Certainly, as we get older IF we have suffered any injury where our body has compensated by laying down more bone in order to stabilise the area, it is more common that this stuff will show up in older people. However, correlation does not equal causation.

Cervical spondylosis is the prime example of this principle!

So what can you do about it?

When it comes to treating cervical spondylosis, I want to share with you the two general principles that a cervical spondylosis specialist Brisbane will hopefully also share with you.

 

    1    MOVE YOUR NECK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Returning to that example of rust in a car, even if the gears grind a bit, you have a choice: a) keep moving as good as possible or b) let the rust accumulate even more to the point that things never move again. The #1 most important thing for a person with cervical spondylosis to do is to move your neck as best as you possibly can, and to do weight bearing physical exercise. Now to help with movement, here is where the unique and powerful approach to healthcare that I offer which cares for the alignment and motion in your neck may be able to help. More on that in a couple of minutes, but I want to address the other piece of advice first.

    2    ANTI-INFLAMMATORY LIFESTYLE. Remember always that cervical spondylosis does NOT cause pain!! Pain is triggered by inflammation or irritation of the nerve receptors in your neck. You can “cheat” by taking medication just to mask the symptoms OR you can address the cause by getting the mechanical pressure on those nerve relieved as much as possible. Often, because some of the degenerative changes is profound enough, stronger measures of pain relief may be required. Therefore, anything that effectively reduces inflammation in your lifestyle - including meditation, diet and exercise - may be able to assist.

Cervical Spondylosis Causes in Adults

If cervical spondylosis degenerates to the point that bony spikes are stabbing nerves or squeezing your spinal cord down by 80%, surgery may indeed be the only option. However, if you are not to that point yet - and if you can do the right things to take care of yourself - you may never need to go down that road.

Unlike that 1975 car we talked about earlier, human being do not have the luxury of just trading in for new parts. Even if/when that technology does come unto existence, I sincerely hope it does NOT become an excuse for us to destroy out bodies even more!

If there is any one piece of advice that I could share with the world, it would be to take care of your neck. Your neck is your lifeline that connects your brain to the rest of your body. If your neck is injured or damaged, it has the potential to affect every aspect of your life.

So if you ever have an injury where you tweak your neck, the best thing to do without delay (because you only have 4-6 weeks before the degenerative process begins) is to get your neck properly assessed to make sure that everything is okay. And not just to rule our broken bones. That’s easy! Remember that the kinds of things that I’m talking about that can lead to degenerative arthritis are only a couple of millimetres big. Without the proper type of assessment or diagnosis these types of problems are often missed!

 

So what kind of injuries am I talking about?

    •    Car accidents INCLUDING the ones where you just bump the fender. If the car does not crumple, that force goes straight through your body!

    •    Trips or falls. Even if you don’t skin your knees, if your head snaps back it can cause things to misalign in your neck. Same thing goes if you have a fall on your tailbone.

    •    Plus the repetitive stress and strain of sitting in front of a computer for days, weeks and years on end.

Again, like compound interest, these little things that cause damage to your neck over a long period of time do add up! And eventually, there is always a price to pay. Cervical Spondylosis Causes in ChildrenKids are not immune either. Even though it is rare for children to show signs of cervical spondylosis, you can still see the early changes happening.

    •    Cervical kyphosis where the normal “C” shaped curve of the neck goes backwards

    •    Bad posture. Posture is not simply a matter of laziness. It is a reflection of what is happening with the state of your neck beneath the surface. So in children, if you see poor posture that can be a MAJOR WARNING SIGN that they will develop cervical spondylosis later in life unless change is made now.

It’s certainly easy to blame phones and computers and video games for the problems we see in kids today. However, all this technology is relatively new! If you grew up before 2000, then you did not grow up with a mobile device in your hand. And so if you have signs of cervical spondylosis or degeneration, there must be another reason.

So let’s go back to physical injuries and consider the things that can happen to children that have the potential to affect their bone structure as they grow up.

    •    Sports injuries. Dance, soccer, gymnastics, horse riding, bike riding, etc. Anything where you can suffer a hard knock or fall can do it.

    •    Gym injuries. Slides, monkey bars, trampolines. All the fun stuff, yes! And these things aren’t dangerous, but all it takes is 1/1000 times, and if the neck problem is NOT addressed it can develop into something ugly later in life

    •    But the BIG one in my opinion is birth injuries: forceps, breech and complicated birth including Caesarian deliveries can all put huge strain on a child’s neck during the birthing process. 

So it is possible for those 2mm injuries to occur from Day 0! If so, pain is not always the obvious first symptom. Instead, colic, torticollis (twisted or “wryneck”), difficulties breastfeeding, or other behavioural developmental issues are usually the first sign.

Now, there are also MANY potential causes for these types of conditions, but I want to be sure that I make you aware that the health of a child’s neck is critical for their development and must not be overlooked if we want to truly change the health of our country.

 

Chiropractic Cervical Spondylosis Diagnostic

When it comes to assessing the health of your neck - or your spouse, or your children or your parents - I would recommend for a SPECIFIC upper cervical chiropractor to be your first portal of entry.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of physiotherapy, osteopathy and general chiropractic before, but probably not an “upper cervical chiropractor” before. What’s the difference?

Upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that takes a personalised approach to the health of your neck (with special emphasis on the top two bones, the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2) - and they health of your nervous system.

In other words, our focus is not just on your muscles or on the pain. Our focus is one the master control centre of your body - i.e., your brainstem - and how an injury to your beck can affect that.

One of the things that makes upper cervical chiropractic different is that everything we do is specific, tested and customised for you. We don’t use cervical manipulation (twisting or cracking the neck), doing the same procedure on every person every time.

Dr EA Addington calculated that when you only consider the top 4 vertebrae in the neck (C1-C4) that there are 578,782 combinations or degrees of potential misalignment!!

Which ONE are you?

So rather than just pick one and hope for the best, what we do in our North Lakes chiropractor practice are a series of precise tests in order to narrow that range down to a workable number (ideally just one, but usually if people have lots of cervical spondylosis, maybe around 10 or so. That way we work lie picking a lock but NOT just going by guesswork).

On every office visit, we use neurological testing to measure the health of your body and if you are in a healing pattern … or if you are not. That way, we know when you need treatment and when you don’t! In order to be as precise as possible, we also have our own specialised 3D x-ray equipment on site. You see, the 2mm misalignments that we’re talking about cannot usually be seen from standard angles that are used in hospitals and with the types of images usually taken in medical or even other chiropractic offices.Your bone structure is different from everyone else! 

So what we do is identify first what your NORMAL bone structure is, and then take specialised views which allow us to actually see what is going on.

Yes, it is all highly technical. However, it’s also easy enough that I’ve been able to show hundred of people their exact misalignments on x-ray even if they have not had formal x-ray training. It is that clear … The only thing they ask them after that is, “Why hasn’t anyone else every shown me this before?! … But that’s a topic for another time. :-)

 

Chiropractic Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis

If you have cervical spondylosis, you may have been told, “Never let a chiropractor touch your neck.”

Yes and no. I should like to correct whomever says this that, “Never let anyone use spinal manipulation that cause your neck to “crack.”

Even though tis is NOT what we use in our North Lakes chiropractic, I am not opposed to the practice of spinal manipulation WHEN it is done appropriately. However, there are certain people - including people with cervical spondylosis - where it is not a good idea. (Plus I don’t like the way that many people “crack” the neck … another very long story)

So what we we do that is so different? When we know the exact degree and direction of the misalignment in your neck, even if you have lots of degeneration, we are able to perform a specific adjustment using no more force that you would use to feel your pulse in order to guide that joint back in the direction that it has been misaligned for so long. So the procedure is done with your head in a neutral position … and have I mentioned it once or twice already? No twisting or cracking!

People often remark at how light an upper cervical adjustment is! And then they are especially amazed at how it changes the muscle tone and ease of movement when they turn their head and neck!

And that’s the whole point! Of course, we can’t undo the cervical spondylosis, but if we can help to restore normal movement through the joints in your neck as much as possible and WITHOUT FORCING THINGS we can help to take the pressure off the nerves, allowing your neck to move better and allow you to experience relief in ways that you may have given up hope that is even possible.

Now, before this article you may never have heard about upper cervical care before. Not only are we the only North Lakes chiropractor to offer this unique method of care, but we are still the only advanced Certified Brisbane chiropractor - in fact the only one in the whole state and country!

I trust that you have found value in this article: not just information, but hope that if you have been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis that there is something that you can do to improve your quality of life.

If so, I’d like to invite you then to reach out to us via email or at our North Lakes chiropractic practice at 07 3188 9329. That way, you can have a chat with one of our doctors of upper cervical chiropractic to discuss the specifics of your condition - to ask any questions you may have - and to find out if there is anything that we can do to help you.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Take care of your neck and take your life back.

 

References

Addington EA. Blair cervical spinographic analysis. Conference on Research and Education. Monetary, CA: 21-23 Jun 1991. Appendix B. https://chiro.org/LINKS/ABSTRACTS/blair.shtml 

Cramer GD, Fournier J, Henderson C. Degenerative changes of the articular processes following spinal fixation. J Chiro Educ 2002;1:7-8. 

Cramer GD, Henderson CN, Little JW, Daley C, Grieve TJ. Zygapophyseal joint adhesions after induced hypomobility. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2010;33(7):508-18. 

Cramer GD, Fournier JT, Henderson CN, Wolcott CC. Degenerative changes following spinal fixation in a small animal model. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27(3):141-54.

Mingels S, Dankaerts W, Granitzer M. Is There Support for the Paradigm 'Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache'? A Comprehensive Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 4;23(3):17. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0756-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30830498

Shahar D and Sayers MGL. Prominent exostosis projecting from the occipital squama more substantial and prevalent in young adult than older age groups. Scientific Reports. 8;3354:20 Feb 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21625-1 

Taylor DN. A theoretical basis for maintenance spinal manipulative therapy for the chiropractic profession. J of Chiropr Humanities (2011) 18, 74–85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342827/

Teng CC, Chai H, Lai DM, Wang SF. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility in young and middle-aged adults with or without a history of mild neck pain. Man Ther. 2007 Feb;12(1):22-8. Epub 2006 Jun 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16777468

Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707074

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