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Sign and Symptoms of Cervical Spondylitis
Essentially, the pathology consists of:
- Narrowing of the cervical vertebrae with disc space reduction.
- Friction between two vertebral bodies created by this narrowing, with an osteophyte (bony spur) formation.
- Loss of normal concavity in the cervical region, i.e., loss of lordosis.
- Symptoms of vascular insufficiency.
- Numbness and tingling sensation in the hands or feet due to the compression of the cervical nerve roots.
The problems of vascular insufficiency consist of vertigo, giddiness, occasional tinnitus (a ringing sensation in the inner ear), a sense of unsteadiness, etc. In a severe case, there is transient loss of consciousness. The vertebro-basilar vessels are important arteries coursing along the cervical column to the back of the brain There are areas here that subserve balance and posture. If the blood flow is affected, the corresponding function is also affected. As the anatomical arrangement is intricate, any movement in the neck affects the flow of blood in the arteries. This syndrome is known as vertebro-basilar -insufficiency.
This is basically a mechanical disorder.
- Very stiff muscles in the cervical region can, over the years, cause a kinking of the cervical spine to the front.
- Bad posture and lack of exercise to the cervical region are the key factors which are responsible in a majority of the patients.
- Lying in bed with several pillows propping up the neck into an unnatural position can affect the alignment of the cervical column, causing a forward inclination.
- Reclining on sofas with the spine hunched and the neck pushed forward is bad for cervical alignment.
- Hunching over the computer for many hours, occupational hazards such as those of a writer, an illustrator or a painter, all cause the spine to be bent forward all the time.
- Positioning the body to the same side during sleep, with the shoulder muscles and the neck compressed, also develops faulty alignment in the cervical spine. In due course the spine is bent, the front surface of the bones and disc are excessively pressurised and damage occurs.
- The so-called executive chairs are ill-designed and push the neck out of alignment. No chair should reach over the head. The level should be up to the shoulder blades so that the chest can stretch over the edge keeping the body upright.
In India, railway porters carry heavy loads on their heads but they do not suffer from cervical pain (as one would expect) from the heavy load they carry every day. Only in the group of people who never exercise their bodies does this occur most frequently.
Common Symptoms Are:
- Pain and stiffness in neck region
- Numbness and pain in arms and tip of the fingers
- Severe Headaches, especially in the back of the head
- Restricted movements in the neck
- Loss of balance
- Inability to do work
- Fatigue and Lethargy in whole day
Physical exam - the doctor may identify tender spots along the neck and evaluate your ability to move the neck in various directions. The function of the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs may be tested.
A spine or neck x-ray may be done to look for arthritis or other changes in your spine.
MRI of the neck is done when you have:
- Severe neck or arm pain that does not get better with treatment
- Weakness or numbness in your arms or hands
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