Cervical spondylitis is a degenerative disorder of the spine. It may occur as a result of the wear and tear of the vertebrae due to aging, injury, or a faulty posture. It is one of the most common causes of pain in the neck region.
There is a significant rise in the number of people suffering from cervical spondylitis, as, of late, the majority of the youngsters & adults work on the computers which can lead to a strain on the back & neck muscles. Adding to this is the faulty posture maintained when at work. Professionals working in the corporate world have longer working hours which may also add to the stress levels.
Early signs of cervical spondylitis are pain, stiffness, swelling, restriction of movements of the neck, headache, vertigo, numbness, tingling sensation, etc. that you should not neglect. Following some helpful tips and lifestyle changes can help you prevent cervical spondylitis.
Find below some helpful tips which may help you prevent the early symptoms of cervical spondylitis:
- Follow a good posture: Maintain a proper posture while working or studying.
- Position the computer screen properly: Maintain a proper distance between the screen and neck and that should be between 18-28 inches. The screen should be at or below the eye level.
- Placement of shoulders, arms, & feet should be appropriate: Shoulders should be relaxed. Wrists should not be bent or extended. Place your feet flat on the ground. Arms should rest on the armrest while sitting.
- Support the spine: Keep the spine well-supported.
- Implement 20-20 rule: Get up from the sitting position every 20 minutes for 20 seconds when at work to relax the muscles.
- Be cautious while carrying a bag: A backpack, school bag, or laptop bag should be carried on both the shoulders and not be unilaterally hanging on one shoulder. This is because hanging the bag on one shoulder causes a lot of strain on the back and shoulders.
- No leaning: Do not lean and read; always sit while reading.
- Have omega 3 fatty acids: Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids which help to strengthen the bones. For instance, go for green leafy vegetables, fish, flax seeds, etc.
- Add foods rich in calcium to your diet: Include foods that are rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, tofu, etc.
- Include vitamin D-rich foods: Consume foods abundant in Vitamin D, such as egg yolk, mushrooms, tofu, etc.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods: Magnesium is also important for the health of bones. This is readily available in green leafy vegetables, avocado, banana, almonds, yogurt, etc.
- Go for anti-inflammatory foods: Anti-inflammatory foods are also necessary so that they can slow down the progress of the disease. These are- Apples, berries, tomatoes, garlic & turmeric.
- Practice exercises regularly: Regularly perform exercises that strengthen the muscles. Exercises like stretching, neck exercises, & shoulder shrugs should be done daily. Involve yourself in regular aerobic exercises, such as swimming, running, and others, as these are very relaxing exercises for the cervical vertebra.
- Use a firm pillow: Take a low pillow under the head while sleeping, and the pillow should be firm and not very soft.
- Say no to heels: Women should avoid wearing heels as it can put the cervical & lumbar spine at risk of developing early degeneration. Footwear should be comfortable so that it provides a proper balance to the body and the spine is not over-strained.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is injurious to your health. Smoking can also lead to early degeneration. So, quit smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Maintain a good weight as per your height.
If you experience any pain or discomfort in performing your daily activities or if there is numbness or tingling sensation affecting your arms, it is better to see a doctor.
If the damage has already set in, physiotherapy may help to a great extent. Homeopathy helps in preventing further damage to the spine and also relieves you of the pain and stiffness. It reduces the dependency on painkillers.
I hope this blog was helpful and many of you would take the steps towards preventing early cervical damage.
- Written by Dr. Chetali, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah