The vertebral disc in the spine is an interesting and unique structure. There are a total of twenty-three vertebral discs in the spinal column that all help act as shock absorbers in the spine. They are tough ligaments that hold the vertebrae of the spine together, and they also allow for slight mobility in the spine. With physical activity, daily routine, injuries, and age the spine may get weaker and lead to pain and symptoms. If the injury is caused in the upper part of the spine pain in the neck, arms, and hands, and shoulders can occur. When the injury is in the lower part of the spine it can lead to lower back pain, hip pain, leg pain, and other symptoms of numbness or weakness. Spinal disc problems are misunderstood for a number of reason such as where the pain is coming from and what it’s caused by. Sometimes the most difficult cases are not due to subluxation in the vertebrae but to subluxation of the disks. A chiropractor can easily locate and adjust a subluxated disk. In most cases, even a herniated or ruptured disk can heal with simple adjustment and manipulation of the spine. Most heal spontaneously.
When a disk is subluxated the normally soft connective tissues surrounding it transforms into taut bands. These band-like tissues help anchor and stabilize the disk to protect it from further injury and often reach many inches away. With chiropractic, carefully adjusting these bands can often produce healing results. Another way to heal is to stay hydrated. Over time, spinal discs dehydrate and become stiffer. Severely dried out disks start to weaken and compress on itself. Drinking at least one cup of water every hour or so can help restore life back into the spine. At birth, approximately 80 percent of the disc is composed of water. In order for the disc to function properly, it must be well hydrated.
Spondylosis is a general term for age related wear and tear of the spinal discs, however can affect anyone at any age. Cervical spondylosis specifically affects the neck area and can cause major pain to those who suffer from it. Because the pain can be so debilitating many people who suffer from cervical spondylosis choose to take medications such as; pain killers, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs can be helpful to ease the pain however many of them come with side effects and can affect your overall health if taken long term. Although there is no cure for cervical spondylosis there are things you can do to help treat it.
Rather than taking medications that act like a Band-Aid there are exercise that you can do that will help to relieve symptoms. Backward extension of the neck can be very helpful to keep the natural curvature of the neck. This is an easy exercise that can be done right from your bed. Begin by lying on your back with your head hanging off of the edge of the bed make sure to slowly come into this posture and to breathe. Keep your head like this for 2-3 minutes for the first couple of times you do this and after a week start adding a few more minutes of keeping your head back. This will help to move the neck back towards its natural “C” curvature. You should do this daily for at least 5 minutes a day.
Next find a comfortable sitting position on the floor, sit up tall with your spine long. Begin by bringing your right ear towards your right shoulder; this should give you a great side stretch of the left side of your neck. Hold this stretch (while breathing) for 15-20 seconds and slowly bring your head back up to a natural position. Change sides by bringing the left ear to the left shoulder and stretching out the right side. Please remember once you feel the stretch stop and breathe. You do not want to force your neck more than it is capable of going. Do each side 3-5 times holding each stretch for 15-20 seconds. After doing this stretch for a few weeks you should see better range of motion and less pain.
I would also recommend seeing your local San Deigo Chiropractor and seeing if getting an adjustment would help relieve any cervical pain. Most San Diego Chiropractors have seen great results in patients who suffer from cervical spondylosis in relief in the surrounding areas such as the shoulders and upper back. Remember there are always ways to help relieve pain and strengthen the body without having to take medications!