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The use of physiotherapy for cervical spondylosis, a condition that frequently develops in older people due to the bones in their cervical spine degenerating over time, can provide a number of benefits. The condition can be rather painful, and physiotherapy can help reduce the level of discomfort. It can work to strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the affected area of the spine, providing stability that can reduce the effects of the condition. Physiotherapy can also help patients relearn appropriate posture and break bad physical habits they may have developed to compensate for the disease, which in the long run are only making the symptoms worse. It may also help patients avoid more invasive treatment such as surgery.
Reduction of pain is one of the first goals of physiotherapy for cervical spondylosis. Often, the muscles and other tissues in the neck near the affected part of the spine are tense, inflamed, or in spasm. When a person starts treatment, the physiotherapist will usually perform a variety of techniques to help relax the muscles, reduce inflammation, and improve blood flow to the area. These can include the application of heat and cold, massage, and electrical stimulation. Traction and hydrotherapy may also be used to support the neck and allow relaxation.
Often after patients become accustomed to the more passive techniques and have seen some reduction in pain, they will start the more active portion of physiotherapy for cervical spondylosis. This typically involves exercises designed to both stretch and strengthen the muscles of the neck. Stretching can increase the person's flexibility and range of motion, which may have become limited due to pain and tension. Strengthening is important, as it allows the muscles to provides support for the weakened part of the spine. The physiotherapist will usually evaluate the patient's particular situation and recommend exercises appropriate for his or her level of ability, generally starting simply and then getting harder as there is improvement.
Another benefit of physiotherapy for cervical spondylosis is that patients learn to correct their posture so that it minimizes the effects of the disease. Often, patients with spondylosis will modify the way they hold their body to compensate for the discomfort it causes. Over time, their posture can become extremely distorted and may actually be making things worse. A physiotherapist will work to make the patient aware of his or her posture and teach correct positioning, which in the long run will usually improve the person's comfort.