Cervical Spondylosis – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis
With the symptoms of head spinning, continuous headache, problem in bending or pain in neck, this disease is called Cervical Spondylosis. There can be many common reasons for pain in neck , like watching television for long hours in lying position, doing desk work or study for long hours, turning neck with force or using thick or hard pillows.
To know about this disease in detail, we have with us, the Ayurveda expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora .
Q. Doctor, as usual we will discuss about a disease which I just mentioned to our audience, Cervical Spondylosis. What kind of disease is it?
Cervical Spondylosis refers to inflammation in spine of cervical vertebra which forms the neck. Its symptoms are, as you mentioned, pain and stiffness in neck region, difficulty in turning head downwards, sometimes head spinning. Somewhere, it is a nervous problem. If we talk about its causes, then mechanical reasons will be ranked on the top. Working on computers for long hours, any work which requires long sitting hours with head bent forward etc. – such conditions increase the possibility of getting Cervical Spondylosis.
Q. If we talk about its complication, what if it is ignored in initial stages. Like, if we have mild stiffness, a little pain in neck, head spinning, problem in movements etc., we generally think that it will go in few days but if the symptoms persist and we ignore it over a time, what could be its implications?
See, not only this but any disease is reversible till it is under certain limit and it can be cured. But if it has developed itself beyond that level then it becomes irreversible. Which means after certain period, it becomes very difficult for us to be able to bring the spine to its original shape and settle the degeneration which has already happened. So if you are carrying a disease, as you step towards its incurable stage, the chances of its reversal goes on decreasing. So, this was the first complication. Second complication is…in case of Cervical Spondylosis , the spine changes its shape and since vertebral column runs through them and nerve bundle runs through vertebrae, there is an adverse effect on nerves, they can get damaged. You will observe that if someone is suffering from Cervical Spondylosis for a long time, he has numbness in hands, tingling sensation as if ant is crawling on skin. So, if we don’t exercise, we don’t use cervical collar, don’t massage then these feelings will increase. If numbness in your hand was only sometimes, you will feel that even if you do very mild task there will be numbness in your hands. So let it be any disease, carrying it neither appreciable nor recommended.
Q. Right doctor, but in modern days, the lifestyle has become quite hectic. People who work on computers often suffer from Cervical Spondylosis because they have to look at the monitor or screen continuously for long hours. But I have observed, even many housewives are suffering from Cervical Spondylosis . What could be the reason?
You mentioned long sittings in computer related jobs or any posture which involves bending forward -these we refer to as flexion position. You are in flexion position for a long time but you don’t do anything to counter it…you don’t do extension exercises. This is the main reason……we are moving away from exercising. Our spine should have some amount of flexibility. I sometimes have patients who get Cervical Spondylosis precipitate after a small shock e.g. Sudden break while driving,. Obviously flexibility of their spine has reduced so much that they are not able to withstand even a small jerk. So oil massage, which we seem to have forgotten over time, should be brought back to our life. Oil massage has a very important role. If you wish that your spine remains flexible as a spring (it’s a mechanical concept) so that you can bend or sit in any required position then it is your own responsibility to maintain its flexibility. And the key is, as I said, oil massage.
Q. Please tell us about what is the right way to do oil massage and which oil do you recommend?
See there are two things. If you want to generally maintain lubrication and you have no problem as such then you should use mahanarayani oil for massage. But if you feel that cervical problem has started, then you should use vishgarbh oil for massaging. In case, if you have pain, stiffness and swelling in spine then you should massage with nilgiriyadi oil. So, you would need to select the oil as per your symptoms. In general if you have no problems, I would say oil is oil. Even if you massage with mustard oil or sesame oil, that would be beneficial. But definitely massage should be brought back in practice and if you are using massage, it is very good to use mahanarayani oil.
Q. I believe, even hearing about oil massage gives a soothing effect…..I am already feeling relaxed. But besides oil massage, what are the other Ayurvedic treatments or remedies available which can help a patient to come out of it?
See, if you have already become a patient of Cervical Spondylosis, then as a treatment we target at stopping the degeneration process of the vertebral region releasing the compression of nerve. Here I recommend Ashwagandha yog which I generally recommend in case of Lumber Spondylosis. You have to consume1 gm in the form of two capsules, each in morning and evening. One tablet of Karaskaradi vati, which is very effective in case of Cervical Sponylosis, has to be consumed. It contains naksbhumika, so if you are a patient of blood pressure, start with half-a-tablet and if it creates no problems then you can increase it to one tablet. This karaskaradi vati is a medicine which provides immediate relief. Vatari ras is also a very good medicine for Cervical Spondylosis. Thus the combination of ashwagandha yog, karaskariadi vati and vatari ras can make you get rid of Cervical Spondylosis. Along with these medicines, oil massage with warm vishgarbh oil has to be done at least twice a day, for five minute each. Following this massage, if you rub nilgiriyadi oil (as it is, without heating) for a minute, you will observe that your spine will regain lubrication. Nilgiriyadi oil relieves pain and swelling, so you will feel quite relaxed. If even these are not working for you then use a combination of dashmularisht and mandoor-vatak. This combination works on internal swelling and relieves it. We ask our patient to take this combination after lunch and dinner. This is very effective and you don’t have to depend on painkillers anymore. If you regularly exercise, take medicines and practice oil massage, you will get rid of Cervical spondylosis.
Q. These exercises can be done while in office also and following Ayurvedic remedies simultaneously work wonders. Now, if we talk about stress, in day-to-day life, those who take extra tension and go through emotional stress, can they also become a victim of Cervical Spondylosis ?
Obviously, here we need to get to the root of Ayurveda. If someone leads a stressful life then the level of vayu increases in his body. In case of Cervical Spondylosis, flexibility of spine decreases. Increased vayu is responsible for drying up or stiffening anything, and the same vayu is responsible for pain anywhere. So somewhere stress is causing increase in vayu which in turn stiffens and dries up spine thus converting you into a patient of Cervical Spondylosis.
Q. We have discussed the causes as well as treatment of Cervical Spondylosis. We believe that Ayurveda helps by working on the root cause and thus eliminating a disease permanently. But how do we say that Cervical Spondylosis would not be recurring?
90% of the times, mechanical reasons are responsible for Cervical Spondylosis eg. Not doing exercises and wrong postures etc. When we get this problem, we take medicines, do exercises, oil massage but once the problem has been resolved, we become careless again and then you can again get the problem. See, the cervical exercises are very simple…you can do the extension exercise for a minute in between your work. You are lucky if you are not a victim of Cervical Spondylosis but it doesn’t mean that you have immunity against it. If your routine job involves sitting in flexion posture, then you need to be aware of the diseases you may be prone to…so you will have to do cervical exercises. It is just a matter of a minute or two you can do it at any time according to your convenience and it has nothing to do with mealtime also. So, if you want that you don’t become a victim of Cervical Spondylosis again. So, don’t ignore them even when you don’t have any symptoms.
Q. One more question doctor, does meditation also help in case of Cervical Spondylosis?
While in meditation, you have to, first of all, correct your posture. You need to keep your spine straight. See, what I believe is whatever we follow by tradition or shastra, there is always a reason behind it. Meditation posture is similar to an extension exercise so definitely it should help in Cervical Spondylosis. This was about physical posture in meditation. But in other aspect, meditation also works on cleansing our mental condition as the mental irritability increases vayu in mind. Similarly, peace of mind decreases the mental vayu. If the vayu is being maintained then it will reverse the pain, dryness or stiffness of joints. I would say, meditation is helpful not only in Cervical Spondylosis but it is equally beneficial for any other disease as well
We have a solution called Kalyani Lepa, which is very effective in Cervical Spondylosis. We expect this Lepa to be recognised as a milestone for curing such complicated problems.