Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine
Cervical spondylosis is a common condition seen in those who suffer from neck pain. To treat it, doctors regularly prescribe medication, infiltrations or even surgery in some cases. Not ideal for those who prefer to avoid or minimize the use of medicated or invasive products.
In this article, we offer 11 natural treatments to relieve cervical osteoarthritis pain. With the doctor's approval, these alternatives could prove to be very effective in treating his condition and improving his quality of life.
Definition of Cervical Osteoarthritis
La cervical spine consists of 7 overlapping bones (called vertebrae), numbered from C1 to C7. These vertebrae are interconnected on the one hand by intervertebral discs articulating two vertebrae via their vertebral bodies.
Furthermore, each vertebrate is composed of articular facets called “zygapophysical joints” which connect 2 vertebrae via their posterior arch. Cartilage lines these joints, allowing movement between the vertebrae and avoiding excessive friction.
Like any joint, there can be degeneration over time. This is the phenomenon of osteoarthritis. Besides aging, this condition can be attributed to a history of cervical injury, repetitive strain injuries, unsuitable postures, malforations of the cervical spine, etc.
In the neck, osteoarthritis lesions mainly affect the lower cervical vertebrae (C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7) and are located at several levels:
- At the level of the discs (causing a compaction and a decrease in space between 2 vertebrae)
- At the facet joints
- At the level of the uncus (between the 3rd and 7th cervical vertebrae)
Bone deformities can then be created. They are called osteophytes, or parrot's beak for their characteristic shape.
Although it can be asymptomatic in some cases, cervical spondylosis can also cause symptoms such as:
- neck pain
- upper limb paresthesias
- upper limb weaknesses
To learn more about cervical spondylosis (including symptoms and diagnosis), see the following article.
Alternative to medical treatment: 11 natural treatments
As mentioned, the medical approach includes the use of pharmacological products and invasive interventions to treat cervical spondylosis. Although effective, these solutions do not appeal to many patients who prefer to avoid drugs in general.
Here is a list of natural treatments for cervical osteoarthritis. It's crucial to get your doctor's approval before trying these alternative approaches:
1. Glucosamine and chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements often used for osteoarthritis-like joint pain. Moreover, they are present naturally in the body, in the synovial fluid and the cartilage surrounding the joints.
2. Vitamin D
There is some evidence indicating a link between vitamin D deficiency and chronic pain. With this in mind, some doctors offer to regulate the level of vitamin D in patients with chronic neck pain.
This spice is mainly used in Indian curries, but is also recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties (the active compound of this product, curcumin, gives it its analgesic properties). It can be consumed in the form of herbal tea mixed with tea, or simply in capsule or liquid form.
4. Capsaicin ointment
The famous Tiger Balm, you know? This balm widely used in Asia contains several ingredients, the most common of which are camphor, capsaicin and menthol (this is what gives it its characteristic smell and warmth). It is widely used for inflammatory, muscular and osteoarticular pain (and therefore regularly against neck pain).
5. Bryonia alba
Bryonia is prepared from the white bryony, a climbing herbaceous plant native to Europe and Central Asia. Like many homeopathic products, Bryonia is taken in granules, pills, liquids, oral powders or ointments.
Arnica is a plant whose flowers are used to treat various pains. It contains an active ingredient, helenalin, which gives it its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is applied as a gel, cream or pill. Side effects, although rare, can include skin irritation and redness (mainly when applied topically).
7. Clay poultice
This is a fairly well-known grandmother's remedy. Here, clay is used for its so-called pain-relieving properties. Clay powder is mixed with water, creating a paste. This paste is then applied (sometimes previously heated in the oven) to the painful area, sometimes adding a pressure bandage.
8. White Willow Bark
The bark of the white willow, a tree reaching up to 25 m in height, is traditionally used in China for its medicinal properties. Because its bark contains salycilic acid, it is believed to work against pain, joint and arthritic problems, among others.
9. Anti-inflammatory diet
Having a balanced diet is not only important for maintaining good health, but also for combat joint pain.
Indeed, an unbalanced diet leads us to nutritional deficiencies that can lead to muscle contractures. Moreover, the consumption of processed or high-sugar foods is known to be a real precursor to chronic inflammation, which is often linked to muscle pain.
To act against chronic inflammation and relieve its symptoms, it may be interesting to favor a anti-inflammatory diet
To learn more about the anti-inflammatory diet and benefit from easy-to-prepare recipes, see the following article.
10. Manual Therapy and Alternative Medicines
The benefits of manual therapy for treating cervical spondylosis should not be underestimated. Although massages and mobilizations (often performed by physiotherapists and osteopaths) do not correct the cause of osteoarthritis, they are effective in relieving tension and normalizing range of motion.
Also, approaches such as acupuncture, suction cups, acupressure mat, electrotherapy or others would also relieve pain and desensitize the central nervous system
11. Adapted pillow
Obviously, a suitable pillow would improve the quality of sleep, which will have an impact on pain and long-term quality of life. Now, how to choose a good pillow when you suffer from cervical spondylosis?
Although the choice of pillow varies with the individual, we generally recommend a orthopedic pillow shape memory. To find out how this pillow can help you sleep better and relieve your symptoms, see the following article.
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