Treating Cervical Spondylosis with Ayurveda
Cervical spondylosis is a chronic degenerative condition of the cervical spine that affects the vertebrae and inter vertebral disks of the neck and sometimes affects the contents of spinal canal. With advancing age spondylosis is also known to affect multiple inter spaces. Symptoms include neck pain stiffness, headache, numbness, etc.
Cervical Spondylosis is a vata-related ailment. It is considered as Greeva Sthamba/ Greeva Graha/ Manya Sthamba in Ayurveda. Greeva or Manya means neck and Sthamba or graha means stiffness and pain. The aggravated vata dosha gets accumulated in the neck region and this leads to degeneration of the dhatus or the tissue and leads to depletion and dryness of the Kapha dosha resulting in stiffness and pain in the cervical region.
Some of the factors that cause Greeva Sthamba include consuming excess dry, cold, light food, fasting for long duration, untimely food habits, intake of junk food, consuming less water, late nights, poor sleep patterns, heavy exercise, carrying heavy weights on the head, neck or shoulder, driving long distances, poor reading or writing posture, stress, anger, excessive use of AC and fans, sitting long hours in front of the computer as well as advancing age.
With age, the vertebral column goes through a lot of wear and tear. By the age 40 (or even 30 in some cases), the soft cartilage inside the spinal discs lose strength and begin drying up due to increased vata. Drying up of these discs leads to friction of the vertebrae results in irritation and in some cases causes herniation of disc. Further aggravation of the vata dosha may also cause stiffness of the ligaments and bone spurs which results in pain.
A person suffering from Cervical spondylosis usually experiences nerve irritation that causes stiffness in neck, restricted movement of the neck, tingling or numbness in the shoulder, arms and hand, headache, fatigue, difficulty in walking and of co-ordination, radiating pain to the hand and sometimes feeling difficulty in lifting arms.
Ayurvedic Treatment Cervical Spondylosis
Ayurveda aims to correct the imbalance of doshas that is responsible for causing this discomfort in one’s body by focusing on uprooting the disease rather than providing symptomatic relief. Our body is just like a machine. When a machine has been over worked we oil it for its smooth functioning, similarly we need to provide the right nourishment for our body for the smooth functioning of our musculoskeletal system.
Treatments that are usually given for Cervical Spondylosis are:
- Snehana (Oleation) treatment both externally and internally are given to reduce the dryness in the body and enhance the flexibility of the joints. External treatment using oil is known to improve blood circulation and helps nourish the disc space and vertebral bones. It tries to regenerate the damaged tissues when combined with internal medication.
- Greeva Basti – In this procedure, a well or a compartment is created around the back of the neck using black gram dough. Medicated oil such as Ksheerabala taila, Bala Ashwagandhadi taila, Mahanarayana taila, Mahamasha taila, Sahacharadi taila, Murivenna taila etc. is heated on a water bath and is gently poured into the well and is retained for a few minutes. When the oil gets cooled its removed and reheated and poured again. The procedure is continued for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Patra Pinda Sweda – The fresh leaves of the vata pacifying herbs are collected and sliced. Leaves of Eranda (Ricinus communis), Nigundi (Vitex nigundo), Arka (Calotropis gigantean), Shigru (Moringa oleifera), Agnimantha (Clerodendrum phlomidis) along with the grated coconut, sliced lemon, Rasnadi Churna, Turmeric powder, Saindhava Lavana (rock salt) are fried in a pan with any of the oil mentioned above (in Greeva Basti) and are tied up into a bolus using a Kora cloth, to form a Patra Pinda or Leaf bundle. The leaf bundle is dipped in warm medicated oil and temperature of the bundle is tested and used for giving Swedana or hot fomentation. The bundle is rubbed on the affected part gently (similar to bundle massage). Circular motions with gentle pressure is given over the joints and rubbed vertically from above downwards while giving fomentation over muscles (in the direction of muscles) on the back, shoulder and hand. Once the bundle start losing its temperature, it is replaced with other bundle which has been kept dipped in the medicated oil in the heated pan. This procedure lasts for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Abhyanga – Massage with warm medicated oil may be done to relieve stiffness and pain in the neck. Massage is done very gently and no pressure is given at the cervical region as pressure massage may increase pain.
- Nasya – Nasal installation of medicated oils into the nostril to improve the nerve strength.
- Basti – Medicated enema may also be given as it brings down the vata dosha and helps in faster recovery.
Medicines that are usually prescribed internally are Sahacharadi kashayam, Dhanvantaram kashayam, Dashamooladi kashayam, Rasnasaptaka kashayam, Gandharvahastadi kashayam, Balaarishta, Ashwagandharishta, Abhayarishta, Yogaraja Guggulu, Kaishora Guggulu, Ksheerabala 101, etc. These are only a few medications that are generally prescribed. Internal medication is given by Ayurveda physician after deciding the associated dosha involved with Vata in causing pain. Internal medication along with external therapies combined together works better in giving faster relief.
Home Tips to avoid Cervical Spondylosis
- Avoid dry, fried, cold, junk, refrigerated food.
- Avoid too much exposure to cool breeze, AC, fan.
- Adopt proper posture while sitting, walking and sleeping. Change your seat or bed as per your comfort.
- Avoid day sleeping and sleep early at night.
- Exercise regularly, Neck rotation in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction is helpful. Bending and stretching of neck, nodding of neck is also useful.
- Use of garlic, ginger, turmeric, sesame seeds in daily diet helps in reduction of Vata.
- Applying of warm sesame oil on the neck region and taking hot water bath also reduces pain.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose), Marjariasana (Cat Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist), Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose) are some of recommened Yoga postures that give relief to Cervical Spondylosis.
- Avoid lifting heavy weights and works that pressurize neck.
- Last but not least avoid sitting in front of computer for long duration, take breaks in between work for 10 minutes for every hour and that will not only reduce pain but also keeps you relaxed to work better.
Note: The medicines and oils mentioned above are to provide information only. Only an expert Ayurveda physician will be able to help you after consultation.
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