Ayurvedic Treatment in Kerala for Cervical Spondylosis
Understanding cervical spondylosis
It seems cervical spondylosis is gaining epidemic proportions in the modern society. What was understood to be a problem associated with ageing until a few decades ago, is fast becoming a problem of the youth thanks to the ubiquitous use of mobile phones and laptops. The common tendency to dismiss it initially as text neck allows it to grow into a degenerative disease that ends with disc herniation and its complexities. Many ayurvedic physicians have started to comment that every other patient that they see in their consultation today complains of neck and shoulder pain. Ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala has been found to be very effective in helping people get rid of the pain and reclaim their personal and work lives. Read on and find out how a course of ayurvedic treatment in Kerala can change your life:
What is cervical spondylosis?
If you have cervical spondylosis you will be experiencing chronic neck pain and you may be finding it difficult to work at the computer, drive, use mobile phones, carry weights, cut vegetables, read a book etc. As you may know, the underlying problem is the damage to the vertebral bones in the neck region i.e. degeneration of cervical vertebrae. Ayurveda explains that this degeneration of cervical vertebrae is caused by by various lifestyle and environment related factors that trigger an imbalance in the proportions of the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) in our body.
What are the symptoms of cervical spondylosis?
When vertebrae in the neck region degenerate, it leads to many problems like -
Pain in neck and /or shoulders
Stiffness in neck
Pain radiating from the neck to one or both arms
Functional limitations with raising arms or maintaining postures
Loss of muscle strength
Persistent numbness in arms / fingers of the hand
What are some factors that cause cervical spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis is actually osteoarthritis of cervical bones - a degenerative condition of the neck spine. While this bone depletion / dhatukshaya is a natural phenomenon of ageing, sometimes it happens at a relatively young age due to various genetic, dietary and lifestyle related factors that cause an imbalance in vata dosha. A common reason for vata imbalance today is chronic injury caused to cervical joints through overuse of mobile phones and desk jobs at computers. Wrong diet and lifestyle can also throw vata dosha out of balance and cause premature degeneration - for example, a dry and spicy diet, having refrigerated leftovers, undernourishment etc disturb vata dosha over a period of time . Over exercise, wrong sleep habits, exposure to cold air, suppression of natural urges like bowel and bladder movements are some lifestyle related factors that cause vata dosha aggravation. Chronic emotional stress, congenital reasons like vertebral deformities, stenosis etc and previous injury to cervical spine may also lead to cervical spondylosis. Ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala therefore starts with identifying the root cause and then addressing it in a step-by-step process.
When should you consider ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala?
Most patients resort to pain killers and neck exercises for a very long time before seeking ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis. However this is not the right thing to do. Because by this time their disease will have progressed to the formation of bony protrusions (osteophytes) and sometimes even nerve damage. Physical medicine and neck exercises have an important role in the treatment of cervical spondylosis but what we need to understand is that it will only be fully effective after ayurvedic treatment when the underlying dosha imbalance and tissue depletion are corrected. So if your answer is ‘yes’ to the questions below, seek ayurvedic treatment in Kerala at the earliest:
Does your pain in the neck limit you in doing certain activities like reading or working on your laptop?
Does this pain radiate down the arms?
Do you feel a shooting pain in the arms occasionally?
Do you feel numb in your arm while raising it or keeping it static for some time?
Do you feel occasional dizziness or headaches in the back of your head?
However this does not mean that cervical spondylosis treatment in Kerala will not work if your disease has progressed. Apart from certain red flags like loss of bladder or bowel control which demand immediate surgical care, Kerala ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis can effectively address the condition at almost all stages.
What happens if you don't treat cervical spondylosis in time?
Our cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae. They are stacked one above the other with a padding (discs) in between so as to reduce the friction between vertebral bones. Each intervertebral disc is composed of a pulpy component and a fibrous part. In the young and in those with a balanced vata dosha, these discs contain enough fluid so that their structural form is maintained. Vata dosha has a drying effect, so as vata aggravation increases, the discs start losing their fluid content (desiccation process) and turn mainly fibrous. They tend to flatten out reducing the space between vertebrae. Eventually the disc ruptures or bulges compressing or pinching nerve roots and cause radiating pain, weakness or numbness along the nerve pathway into the arm and hand. Also, due to loss of height of the spine the load is borne more by another type of joint (facet joint) between the vertebral bodies leading to their degeneration in particular and formation of osteophytes.
AYURVEDIC TREATMENT FOR CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS
What is the approach adopted in the ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis?
Ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala gives prime importance to pacifying the aggravated vata dosha. If clinical examination shows signs of associated kapha imbalance, this is addressed effectively too. Apart from restoring the dosha balance, ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis also addresses bone tissue depletion ( asthidhathu kshaya caused by degeneration ) with nourishing therapies. Chronic cases with neurological manifestations such as pain radiating to arms ( radiculopathy ) and compression of spinal cord demands therapies that help strengthen the nerves and its functions ( naadi balya chikitsa ). In short, the ayurvedic treatment approach covers all aspects of cervical spondylosis like its cause, symptoms and complications as well as helps prevent further progress and worsening of the disease.
What are the different stages in the ayurvedic treatment of cervical spondylosis in Kerala?
Ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala is a step by step process that helps in alleviating the disease completely:
The first stage in the ayurvedic treatment of cervical spondylosis may start with a rookshana treatment like podikizhi or mild udwarthana, if the condition is chronic or if there is inflammation. Once the inflammation subsides, the next step is pacifying the increased vata dosha and restoring the decreased kapha in the joints to its normal state. Oleation and fomentation therapies like abhyanga, elakizhi, greeva vasthi etc. are usually adopted in this stage. These dosha balancing treatments go a long way in relieving pain.
The second stage of treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala includes specific therapies to relieve pain and stiffness. The first stage of treatment helps in bringing down the pain considerably but if the pain is severe with inflammatory changes, additional therapies like upanaha swedam will be prescribed as a part of the second stage, along with pain relieving internal medications.
The third stage of ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis focuses on correcting the bone depletion caused by degeneration. Nourishing type of nasya and sometimes nourishing type enemas are prescribed to reverse this dhatukshaya / depletion.
The last stage of ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis adopts therapies and medications to correct nerve irritation if neurological manifestations like radiating pain and numbness are present. Njavara kizhi and enema come beneficial in such cases.
Depending on the treatment protocol necessary, ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala varies from 14 days to a month.
What are some therapies used in the ayurvedic treatment of cervical spondylosis?
Rookshana therapies - If inflammation is present, rooksha sweda therapies like podikizhi, mild udwarthana are adopted. These therapies extract toxins (aama) from their site and expel it from the body by inducing sweat, thereby relieving inflammation.
Abhyanga - Gentle whole body massage with medicated oils carefully chosen to suit your constitution and condition. Massage helps in penetration of the oils. It has the effect of pacifying vata dosha, enhancing blood circulation to the cervical joints, relieving pain and stiffness and nourishing the tissues.
Elakizhi/ Patrapotali sweda - Massage with pouches containing medicated leaves and oils. This therapy is excellent to restore the balanced proportions of the doshas, relieve pain and stiffness, strengthen muscles and soft tissues and restore the lost strength and mobility of cervical bones.
Greeva vasthi - Involves retaining warm medicated oil over the cervical spine inside a compartment made with dough. This is a very valuable therapy especially when there is a reduction of intervertebral spaces due to degeneration of bones and discs. Greeva vasthi expands these intervertebral spaces between cervical bones and prevents disc herniation. In cases where there is already disc herniation, it prevents further worsening of the condition. Another key effect is the nourishing effect of the medicated oils that arrest the degenerative process in the vertebrae.
Nasya - This process of instilling medicated oil through nostrils is of different types. In cervical spondylosis, the nourishing type of nasya (brimhana nasya) is usually adopted. This nourishment helps arrest the process of degeneration and improves the functioning of nerves. In patients who have signs of nerve pinching and nerve weakness, as evidenced by numbness, burning sensation, loss of muscle strength etc. nasya treatment relieves these symptoms. Nasya also helps strengthen the cervical spine.
Njavara kizhi / Shashtika sali pinda sweda - A nourishing form of massage therapy with pouches of cooked njavara rice, njavara kizhi is usually done towards the end of the treatment. This therapy is highly beneficial in cases with radiating pain and compression. It nourishes the nerves and helps relieve the nerve irritation caused in such cases.
Upanaha sweda - A type of fomentation therapy where medicated herbal paste is applied and bandaged locally over the affected area. The therapeutic effect of the herbal paste penetrates deep and helps in relieving swelling and inflammatory changes.
Severe cases of cervical spondylosis may also need a course of vasti (medicated enema) to completely normalise the deranged vata dosha. Your ayurveda physician may also decide to avoid some therapies or include some other therapies like pizhichil (pouring of warm medicated oil), naranga kizhi (massage with a pouch containing medicated lemons) etc. depending on your condition.
How successful is the ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala ?
Years of clinical evidence speak volumes about the efficacy of Kerala ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis with minimal problems like pain in neck or shoulders, occasional numbness etc can be effectively cured with a course of ayurvedic treatment in Kerala. However, if the disease has progressed to a stage of bony outgrowth formation or compression of nerve roots, a permanent cure may not be possible since these are not reversible phenomena. In such a scenario, pain and other symptoms can be relieved, further damage can be prevented and your chances of suffering another painful episode of spondylosis can be reduced effectively through ayurvedic treatment. In advanced cases of cervical spondylosis, repeat courses of ayurvedic treatment may be found necessary in a few years’ time.
Why opt for an ayurveda hospital in Kerala for your cervical spondylosis treatment?
Kerala is the authentic hub of ayurveda. Many physicians of Kerala uphold ayurveda as a proud legacy and practise it with utmost devotion and sincerity. Many reputed ayurvedic centres in Kerala have also contributed to the ayurvedic renaissance in India. The physicians of the current generation here in Kerala have been taught and trained directly by many such legends of ayurveda or their students. Kerala’s contribution to ayurveda also includes new and tested treatment techniques in panchakarma which has led to the term, Keraleeya Panchakarma. Above all, ayurveda hospitals in Kerala are most experienced in the treatment of cervical spondylosis; no where else would you find such experienced professionals for the ayurvedic treatment of cervical spondylosis.
AYURVEDIC DIET AND LIFESTYLE FOR CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS
What is the diet suggested in the ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis?
There is no specific diet prescribed for cervical spondylosis as such. Since ayurveda groups it under a spectrum of disorders arising from deranged vata dosha in our body, a diet that keeps vata under control is usually recommended. This includes usage of milk, ghee and healthy fats, moderate use of unprocessed, home cooked meat etc. Things to avoid include dry, tinned, salty and spicy foods, dry meat and dried vegetables, legumes and pulses like black gram (if you want to use them, cook it well with garlic/ajwain/asafoetida) and regular use of cold foods and leftovers.
Does climate affect cervical spondylosis?
Yes, climate affects cervical spondylosis. According to ayurveda, the three doshas in our body fluctuate seasonally and therefore some diseases tend to aggravate in specific seasons. In cervical spondylosis or other degenerative diseases of the spine, depending on the extent of involvement of the three doshas and the causative factors, seasonal aggravations can occur. Cold weather and wind generally provoke vata dosha and cause a flare up of degenerative diseases like cervical spondylosis, increasing pain and numbness in some. Heat can also provoke symptoms like headache, inflammation etc. in some people.
What should you do after discharge to reap the full benefits of ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis in Kerala?
Change is the only thing that is constant in this universe. Your body is not in the same state every single day. Tackling vata dosha is of prime importance in all degenerative conditions of spine like cervical spondylosis and it’s meant to be a continuous process. Our daily activities and interactions with the external environment are constantly changing the proportions in our tridoshic system which is taken care of to a certain extent by the body itself. In order to help the body to do so, we need to give time and space for a daily self-care regimen even after the treatment is over. Therefore, to stay healthy you need to be aware of your body’s limitations and modify your lifestyle to stay ahead of them. In cervical spondylosis it can be anything that will help you control the degeneration taking place and relieve the symptoms of the degeneration that has already happened. Developing good sleep habits, using hot water for drinking and bathing, moderately exercising daily to strengthen the muscles and prevent laxity, self-abhyanga or oil massage to lubricate the joints and improve circulation, and avoiding untimely intake of food are some ways to keep vata dosha under check.
In short, if you have symptoms of cervical spondylosis, do not wait for it to progress into a chronic degenerative condition. Ayurvedic treatment can give you the best results in the early stages but if you already have a progressed case of cervical spondylosis, do not hesitate any further to undergo treatment. Take ayurvedic treatment in Kerala at the earliest to arrest the progress of your disease, relieve pain and get back to your life. Even in cases where surgery has been suggested, ayurveda treatment has been able to help and avoid surgery.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between cervical spondylitis and cervical spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition whereas cervical spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that may have nothing to do with ageing and degeneration.
Can ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis help In cases where surgery has been suggested?
Surgery is usually advised when the condition is chronic, with nerve involvement, and with compression of spinal cord. It is good to seek an ayurvedic opinion in such cases because if the condition is not severe, there are chances that it can be managed or reversed with ayurvedic treatment alone and surgical intervention can be avoided permanently.
Can cervical spondylosis be cured with physiotherapy / physical medicine?
No. Physiotherapy, as a complementary system, has proven effects in reducing the pain and symptoms of cervical spondylosis. But cervical spondylosis cannot be cured with physiotherapy alone. Physiotherapy becomes fully effective only when the underlying dosha imbalance and bone tissue depletion are managed with proper ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis.
How can I prevent flare ups after ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis?
Take your follow-up medicines without fail for the prescribed duration. Always maintain a healthy posture while working on laptops and mobile phones. Use back support while driving and a small pillow or a rolled towel during sleep. Sleep by 10:00 p.m. and wake up by 6:00 a.m. If you have a desk job, take frequent breaks and do mild neck exercises and stretches. Follow a healthy lifestyle and diet that help vata dosha to stay balanced.
Is ayurvedic treatment for cervical spondylosis beneficial in cases where there is spinal cord compression and radiculopathy?
Yes. In radiculopathy, measures to stop the nerve irritation caused by the “pinching” of nerves is adopted. In cases where the spinal cord is compressed, treatment will be mainly focused on pacifying the symptoms and preventing it from progressing further down over the back. In both cases, further worsening can be arrested and the symptoms can be effectively managed with ayurvedic treatment.