What You Need To Know
- Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
- Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
- Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
- Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
- Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
Exercises For Neck And Shoulder Pain
Here are the best exercises for neck and shoulder pain. These neck pain exercises can help strengthen the muscles around your neck and cervical spine and take pressure off your discs:
- Water exercise or aerobics
- Resistance Training Perform joint friendly non-impact Exercises for Arthritis to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints , taking pressure off of them and begin true healing.
- Posture Training The Alexander Technique is really great for this. Proper Posture is very important in getting arthritis pain relief and this can help you relieve neck, back and shoulder pain!
- Ergonomics Proper Ergonomic Posture reduces stress on your back and joints.
- Lose Your Neck Pain This guide gives you all the exercises, diet choices for arthritis relief that has been proven to work from the healthy back institute!
Do whatever you can do that doesnt add additional stress on your neck and spinal column to relieve the pressure on your neck and spine. Then add the following natural treatments below to restore pain free mobility for the long term.
How Will Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Affect Me
The first sign of osteoarthritis of the spine is usually pain and stiffness in your back or neck.
The condition can be difficult to diagnose, as it can be hard to tell which symptoms are linked to osteoarthritis. It can even be hard to spot back and neck problems on x-rays of the spine, as changes caused by osteoarthritis dont always cause pain.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine will vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are:
- pain in your back or neck
- stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or after resting
- crunching or grinding noises when moving your back or neck.
People who have osteoarthritis in their neck might also have headaches or feel pain in their shoulders and arms.
Its normal for the cartilage in our joints to get thinner, especially as we get older. But in people with osteoarthritis, its the bodys normal process of repairing damage to joints that can cause pain and stiffness.
When the body starts to repair damage to cartilage, the whole joint can be affected including the bone, tendons and ligaments.
During the repair process, the edges of the bones in the spine can grow outwards, forming bony spurs. These are known as osteophytes . The discs between the vertebrae in the spine can also become thinner.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Inflammatory Arthritis
Can Ra Cause Headaches
RA in the neck can also affect surrounding areas, and may cause referred pain in the shoulders, back, and head. Referred pain is when a person feels pain in an area of the body that is not the original source of the pain.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, neck RA can cause referred pain in the form of secondary, or cervicogenic, headaches.
People may feel pain on one side of the head or at the front of the head and behind the eyes.
Although there is currently no cure for RA, a range of treatments can help manage the condition, relieve painful symptoms, and prevent further damage.
Treatment Options For Cervical Osteoarthritis
Cervical osteoarthritis can usually be successfully managed without surgery. Common treatments include:
- Rest or activity modification. Going easy on the neck during a painful flare-up may ease pain. Also, you may need to modify some activities, such as using a different swim stroke if you enjoy swimming.
- Physical therapy. A physiatrist, physical therapist, or other medical professional can customize a neck exercise program for you. A stronger and more flexible neck has improved function, which may reduce pain.
- Over-the-counter medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help relieve inflammation from osteoarthritis. A few examples include ibuprofen and naproxen . Remember to carefully read the instructions before using any medication to reduce the risk for serious complications.
You May Like: Is Osteo Bi Flex Good For Rheumatoid Arthritis
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Neck
Surprisingly, many people do not experience any symptoms of arthritis. Those who do, however, may experience the following symptoms:
- numbness or weakness of the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- sensations of grinding or popping while turning the neck
- muscle spasms
- loss of bowel or bladder control
- lack of coordination
- fatigue and/or trouble sleeping
These arthritis symptoms could last for several months or become chronic over time.
With rheumatoid arthritis, you may also experience stiffness in the hands and wrists, particularly in the morning after waking up, Dr. Shah notes.
“Ankylosing spondylitis may affect the back and hips, again with symptoms worse after waking up,” he says.
How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan and/or ultrasound to zero in on the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement or rule out other causes
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
Degenerative Disk Disease: Janâs Story
At 78, Jan Greer wanted to stay active and athletic. Herniated disks, stenosis and other degenerative back problems were causing him unbearable pain. When the pain became too much to bear, he turned to Johns Hopkins.
Read Also: How To Cure Arthritis In Ankle
Symptoms Of Neck Arthritis
What are the most common Symptoms of Neck Arthritis? Since the neck and shoulder are connected they are sometimes tied together in a neck ache. Here are the most common symptoms of Neck Arthritis:
- Headache or Fever
- Facial Pain
- Feeling Tired or Lethargic
If you are experiencing any of the above cervical arthritis symptoms along with neck pain, then you will want to treat it immediately by using exercises for neck pain, neck arthritis remedies and a natural neck arthritis treatment which are all shown below.
Massage For Neck Arthritis
Massage feels good, and it may help to relax tight muscles and improve localized circulation to structures in your neck. Some research into specific types of massage has shown promise for reducing neck pain.
Cupping involves placing suction-type cups over your muscles. Some small studies have shown that cupping reduces symptoms in patients with chronic neck pain.
The American College of Rheumatology has published guidelines for the treatment of osteoarthritis and has stated that the research currently does not support the use of massage as an effective treatment for knee, hip, or hand arthritis.
While the guidelines are not specific to cervical spondylosis, it may be helpful to keep in mind there is little evidence that massage provides lasting relief for arthritis. Still, it may be one option to try when seeking out natural remedies for your neck pain.
Read Also: How To Help Arthritis In Lower Back
Coping With Low Mood And Sleep Problems
Living with pain can affect your mood and sleep, and its normal to feel low from time to time. If this is something that affects you, try going along to a pain clinic, where you can learn how to manage your pain. Theyll usually take place at outpatient clinics, and you can be referred to them by whoever is treating you.
Pain can be affected by different things, including feeling low or stressed. There are a number of talking therapies and techniques you can learn, which can help you manage your pain, support your emotional wellbeing, and deal with any low feelings you might have. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can help with osteoarthritis.
Learning to relax your muscles can also help, particularly if you have neck pain and are feeling stressed, as this can cause your muscles to become more tense.
A pillow thats too firm or thick can make neck pain worse. Try to sleep with your head level to the rest of your body. Its important to have a mattress that gives your head and spine proper support.
Try having a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio or a relaxation CD to wind down before bed. If pain is waking you during the night, try taking paracetamol or another painkiller before bed. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert for more advice.
When Should You See A Doctor For Arthritis In The Neck
If your symptoms of arthritis in the neck do not improve over time, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
“If neck pain is not relieved by activity modification, rest, or over-the-counter pain relief medications, and symptoms remain unimproved for four to six weeks, it is time to consult a physician,” Dr. Singh says.
It’s especially important to check in with your doc if your neck pain symptoms are associated with neurological deficits, such as weakness in your hands or legs, loss of balance, or trouble walking.
You May Like: Does Barometric Pressure Affect Arthritis
Low Back Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis
The most common symptom of spinal osteoarthritis is pain in the lumbar spine . This pain may also radiate down to the pelvis, buttocks, groin or thighs. It is usually treated through a combination of:
- and that strengthens a person’s core
- , acetaminophen, and/or adjuvant pain medication
When these treatments are not enough to alleviate pain and stiffness, a patient may require procedural pain management, such as or blocking of the medial nerve through radiofrequency neurotomy, where heat generated by radio waves disrupts the nerves ability to transmit pain signals.
What Has Changed And What Needs To Be Done
Recently, better quality randomised controlled trials have suggested that exercise, mobilisation physiotherapy, and manipulation are more effective than less active treatments, although their relative cost effectiveness has not been studied.,, One high quality study, suggested further advantages to combining exercise with mobilisation or manipulation this approach has been advocated by a Cochrane review group, and warrants further study.
Many commonly used treatments including analgesics, anti-inflammatory agents, tricyclic antidepressants, strategies to improve posture, and stress management are widely used but have not been studied. Other modalities like acupuncture, traction, electrotherapy, and psychotherapy are of uncertain value and need further study.
The lack of consistency in study design, populations studied, outcome measures, and lengths of follow-up make comparisons across studies difficult. Use of multiple interventions in the same study also complicates these analyses. Large well designed randomised studies using standardised study protocols are needed to clarify the efficacy and cost effectiveness of individual treatments.
Recommended Reading: Does Exercise Help Arthritis In Back
What Else Will Help With The Sensation Of Dizziness
It may be worth opening a discussion with your primary care provider about having radiographs taken of the neck to determine the severity of the degeneration. It is also important to rule out other causes of the sensation, such as a condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo which can be assessed using the Dix-Hallpike maneuver and corrected by a professional familiar with the Epley maneuver.
Don’t wait to have your dizziness assessed. Seek out a professional if you begin to experience sensations of vertigo.
How Do I Treat Chronic Cervical Spondylosis
Randomised controlled trials identified by systematic reviews,,,, provide moderate evidence that various exercise regimensusing proprioceptive, strengthening, endurance, or coordination exercisesare more effective than usual care w25 or stress management,, although not all studies have found exercise beneficial. One randomised controlled trial found exercise plus infrared heat no more effective than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation plus heat at relieving pain at six weeks and six months, although both were better than heat alone.w26
Randomised controlled trials included in systematic reviews of manual treatments ,,,,,, provide limited evidence that mobilisation physiotherapy, and manipulation are more effective for chronic neck pain than less active treatments . However, manipulation has occasionally been associated with serious neurological complications .w27
Mobilisation, manipulation, and exercise seem to be equally effective.,w28 A study comparing combined exercise and manipulation with either modality alone found the combination to be more effective at three months, but no difference was seen compared with exercise alone at one and two years. However, another pragmatic study found no advantage at six weeks or six months of adding manual therapy or heat to exercise and advice.
Recommended Reading: What Are Usually The First Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Which Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Make an appointment with your rheumatologist right away if you start having neurological symptoms, like tingling, weakness, and numbness in your arms, hands, or fingers. Also call if you have muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders, trouble walking, loss of balance, headaches, and grinding or popping sounds when you move your head. If imaging tests show instability, the next step is a referral to a neurosurgeon for possible neck-fusion surgery. If you are scheduled for any other surgery prior to that procedure, Dr. Bhatt recommends you contact your rheumatologist so he can consult with that team. The way your neck is moved during anesthesia can damage an RA-affected joint.
Ankylosing Spondylitis In The Neck
Like rheumatoid arthritis, this condition is marked by inflammation in the joints. But there are some differences between the two diseases.
“With ankylosing spondylitis, the body’s own immune system turns against the ligaments and tendons around the spine,” Dr. Shah says. “As the ankylosing spondylitis progresses, additional stiffness can ensue.”
In very severe cases, the bones of the spine may grow together, causing a forward curvature of the spine and possibly disability.
Symptoms typically appear in the hips and lower back before occurring in the neck, Dr. Shah adds. This type of arthritis affects the whole neck.
Unlike osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis has no known cause.
Recommended Reading: Is Red Meat Bad For Arthritis
How Does This Relate To The Sensation Of Dizziness
When the bones of the neck begin to degenerate, the body tries to manage what has been lost. Like our hard-working, and well-meaning brick builders, this can eventually cause bone to form in places it shouldn’t. The additional bone can place pressure on nerve roots and blood vessels that pass between the vertebrae of the spine. Additionally, the degeneration can cause the spaces between the vertebrae to become smaller, also placing pressure on these structures. The weakness in the bones and joint spaces can also make the individual more prone to injury, including strains and sprains.
The vertigo is thought to be caused by neurological and vascular concerns. When certain nerve roots are compressed, this affects the signals going toward the brain, including those for your sense of vestibular tone leading to dizziness and vertigo. The vascular portion of this symptom is due to compression of the vertebral artery, one of the main highways of blood to the brain. As this artery is compressed, blood flow to the vestibulocochlear organ, the one responsible for balance, is reduced.
Video: Cervical Facet Osteoarthritis
Cervical osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that can cause neck pain and stiffness.Watch Now
Sometimes confusion is created when general terms are used interchangeably to refer to cervical osteoarthritis, including cervical spondylosis, degenerative joint disease, or simply neck arthritis. On this site, cervical osteoarthritis is the term that specifically describes the degeneration of the facet joints in the cervical spine.
Read Also: What Blood Tests Are Used To Diagnose Psoriatic Arthritis
What Are The Risk Factors For Cervical Spondylosis
Aging is the major factor for developing cervical osteoarthritis . In most people older than age 50, the discs between the vertebrae become less spongy and provide less of a cushion. Bones and ligaments get thicker, encroaching on the space of the spinal canal.
Another factor might be a previous injury to the neck. People in certain occupations or who perform specific activities — such as gymnasts or other athletes — may put more stress on their necks.
Poor posture might also play a role in the development of spinal changes that result in cervical spondylosis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
Recommended Reading: How Long Can You Take Aleve For Arthritis
What It Feels Like
Neck pain is a primary symptom of RA in the neck. The severity of neck pain varies from person-to-person. You may feel a dull or throbbing ache in the back of your neck around the base of the skull. Joint swelling and stiffness can also make it difficult to move your head from side to side.
The difference between RA neck pain and a neck injury is that stiffness and pain from an injury may gradually improve over days or weeks. If left untreated, RA in the neck may not get better it can actually worsen. Even if symptoms do improve, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness can return.
RA in the neck also differs from osteoarthritis. RA pain is due to inflammation in the joints, whereas osteoarthritis involves the natural wear and tear of joints.
Osteoarthritis can also affect the neck. However, pain and stiffness with RA can be worse in the mornings or after periods of inactivity. Osteoarthritis neck pain tends to worsen with activity.