12:00 AM, January 19, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 19, 2013

How to manage neck pain in the elderly

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Neck pain is common for both in male and female of all age group. Elderly people are suffering from neck pain due to osteoarthritis of neck bone known as cervical spondylosis.
Pain and stiffness is the primary symptoms. Pain may travel to shoulder, hand and fingers due to nerve root compression at the neck bone in the spine. There may be tingling, pins and needles prick sensation present in hand. Weakness and wasting of arm muscle may present in chronic cases. Vertigo, headache and pain in chest or back also happened in cervical spondylosis.
There occurs degeneration and narrowing of the disc with bone reaction at the periphery resulting in osteophytes or bony spurs or bony projections with wear and tear of the articular tissue. These ostephytes press on the cervical nerve root at spinal cord leading to compression symptoms.
The main goal of management is to relief pain and to release compressed nerve. NSAIDs or common painkiller drugs can control sever pain for short period. But patient with diabetes, gastritis or kidney diseases have restriction in taking those drugs. Some electrotherapy modalities like Infra Red Radiation (IRR) may be used to ease the tensed muscle and reduce spasm. Self traction technique is effective in early stage of acute pain. Patient should try to remain as active as possible without aggravating symptoms in order to maintain strength and mobility and to avoid deterioration. This can be achieved by having regular breaks from levels of activity that increase symptoms with positions of comfort.
Exercises placing minimal force through the neck should be performed to maintain fitness, strength and mobility provided they do not increase symptoms. This may include regular walking, hydrotherapy exercises (designed by a physiotherapist) or gentle range of movement and strength exercises as determined by the treating physiotherapist. It is also important to maintain good posture (or as close to good posture as possible without increasing symptoms) to minimise stress on the neck. A medicated pillow is sometimes useful. Avoid working by forward bending and lifting heavy weight. Hot compression and rest can accelerate the healing process.

The write up is compiled by
Dr Mohammad Ali, Consultant and Head of Physiotherapy Dpt, Uttara Adhunik Medical College Hospital.
Email: physiomali@yahoo.com

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