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Cervical spondylosis can usually be treated using conservative measures consisting of lifestyle changes, physical exercise and sometimes the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Only in severe cases that do not respond to these conservative measures is surgery necessary. The best cervical spondylosis treatment for each patient should be chosen by a medical specialist, taking into account the clinical history of the patient.
Cervical spondylosis manifests as neck and shoulder pain. Most often it is caused by the natural aging of the bones of the spine due to wear and tear. It is commonly found in people over 55 years old. The wearing away of the bone and degeneration of the cushions, or discs between the vertebrae, may cause the pain. In more severe cases, the nerve roots may become compressed, and in very severe cases the spinal cord may be involved, which may affect the arms and legs.
The best cervical spondylosis treatment should be established according to the symptoms. Often the symptoms may disappear on their own, but recurrence is common. The initial symptoms are normally pain in the neck and shoulders, which can be treated acutely by NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and/or muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine. Opioid medication may be necessary in acutely painful cases, but long-term use is discouraged due to the abuse potential of these drugs.
In more severe or chronic sufferers, the best cervical spondylosis treatment may be long-term use of low-dose amitriptyline. Some studies have shown the effectiveness of other drugs used for chronic pain, such as pregabalin, gabapentin and duloxetine. In non-responsive cases, the doctor may recommend surgery as a cervical spondylosis treatment. Cervical radiculopathy is surgery preformed on a pinched nerve, to release it. Surgical treatment for cervical myelopathy is rare, as the condition is usually treated more conservatively.
Typically, cervical spondylosis treatments involve non-drug measures such as lifestyle changes and exercise. Removing triggers such as vigorous or jarring exercise, bad posture in the office, or repetitive strain is vital. Immobilization of the neck is often recommended, using either a neck brace or traction. Low impact exercise such as walking or swimming is extremely beneficial.
Physiotherapists or physical therapists can recommend neck and shoulder strengthening exercises. Massage, acupuncture and hot or cold compresses may also be beneficial for reducing pain. Any manipulation or exercise should be approached carefully and stopped if they cause increased pain. In most cases, following the conservative recommendations will resolve the cervical spondylosis.
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