Heat And Ice Treatments
Some people with cervical spondylosis benefit from using heat or ice for their neck pain and discomfort.
Moist heat is used to decrease pain, improve circulation, and relax tight muscles around your neck. Heat can be applied in various ways, including:
- Soaking in a hot shower
- Using a hydrocollator moist hot pack
- Placing warm compresses on your neck
- Using an electric heating pad
When using heat, watch out for burns on your skin. Look for excessive redness, skin irritation, or skin discoloration. Heat should be applied for no more than 15 minutes, several times a day. If pain or redness occurs, discontinue use.
Ice may be used for acute neck pain or discomfort, as it is considered an anti-inflammatory treatment that decreases pain and swelling by limited blood flow to the body part being treated. Ice may be applied with an ice pack, ice bag, or cold compress.
You can apply ice to your neck for 15 minutes several times each day. Ice may cause frost burns. Use ice with a towel, facecloth, or other layer between the ice and the skin to avoid skin damage. Discontinue use if you feel increased pain or note excessive redness and skin irritation.
Why Early Testing Is Key
As early as possible, talk to your rheumatologist about getting baseline images of your neck and other joints to track any changes especially flexion and extension views of the neck to look for instability. This is an important part of checking whether your treatment is working and whether your RA is progressing. This matters in all of your joints, but because the top neck joint can be so vulnerable, monitoring it is essential. Should you develop pain or other symptoms, talk to your rheumatologist about having new scans to check whats going on.
Isometric Lateral Neck Muscle Strengthening
Lateral neck flexion means basically to tilt your head to one side. The muscles affected in this exercise are called the lateral flexors.
Place your palm on your right temple and press your left ear toward your left shoulder. Resist the motion of your head with your hand. Hold for a count of 5. Relax back to the start position very slowly. Do several of these and repeat on the other side.
With isometric exercises, Rajter says its important to move slowly, especially when you are relaxing the muscle contraction and bringing your head back to the upright position. The neck is a sensitive area and one where its especially important to avoid jolting, she says. She also cautions against making bouncing motions. This is because bouncing does not result in strengthening, she tells me.
For people who are stronger, Turczan suggests picking up your head when you do strengthening and stretching exercises. For example, while in a plank position, be sure not to let your head drop. Many people have great form and strength when they do this pose, she says, but they let their head sag. This keeps muscles of the neck weak.”
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.
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Working With Neck Pain
Overall, getting back to work sooner rather than later is helpful for most people. In the past, people were advised to rest up in bed, but we now realise that it does more harm than good. Its much better to keep moving, even if you need to take some painkillers to allow you to do so.
Most people are able to return to work within 23 days, although this varies from person to person and depends on the type of job you do.
You dont need to wait until your neck problem has gone. In many cases, the longer youre off work the more likely you are to develop longer-term problems and the less likely you are to return to work.
Its important to keep in contact with your employer and discuss what can be done to help you return to work. If your work involves physically demanding tasks, you might find it useful to work shorter hours or move to more desk-based duties for a couple of weeks.
If you have an occupational health adviser at your workplace, they can help advise what work you are fit to do and arrange any simple adjustments to help you to cope. If you are having difficulties travelling to or from work or need an item of equipment, the Governments Access to Work Scheme might be able to help.
If you are unable to get back to work after two weeks of absence because of your neck pain, you should talk to your doctor and employer about getting physiotherapy or other treatments that can get you moving again.
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Overcome Arthritic Neck Pain At Home
Are you experiencing constant stiffness and pain in your neck? Perhaps youve noticed yourself getting headaches that seem to originate from your neck and shoulder area. Or, maybe the range of motion while turning your head feels compromised.
If any of these symptoms have you nodding your head along , you may be dealing with some arthritis in your neck. While many of these symptoms come on slowly over time, arthritic pain can be incredibly debilitating and make everyday activities both uncomfortable and frustrating.
However, you dont need to let your arthritis pain run the show! Take control of your day-to-day comfort with some of these super-approachable at-home remedies.
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.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis And Treatment
A rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis begins with a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms. Your doctor may also order laboratory tests, such as blood tests and X-rays, to get a better understanding of your condition.
RA affects each person differently, and treatment will depend on your symptoms and how severe they are. Common treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
- Medications to slow joint damage, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biologic response modifiers
- Rest when you need it
- Chiropractic treatment to alleviate neck pain through adjustments to your neck’s vertebrae.
- Splints to support swollen, painful joints
- Surgery when necessary this may involve joint replacement , reconstruction of tendons, or removal of inflamed tissue.
Why Neck Inflammation Can Be Dangerous
When RA inflammation affects a joint, it can cause bone erosions and slackness in ligaments. In the neck, this can lead to instability between the first and second vertebrae as well as alignment problems when you tilt your head forward or back. If it progresses, the nerves may get impinged, which can lead to weakness and numbness in extremities, says Rajat Bhatt, M.D., a rheumatologist at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital in Richmond, TX. Severe instability can also lead to compression of the spinal cord, which can be fatal. Fortunately, surgery to fuse the joint can eliminate the risk .
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Exercises For Arthritis In The Neck
- Neck Stretch: Straighten the body and, while keeping it straight, push the neck forward so the throat area is stretched. Tense the neck muscles and hold briefly before returning to center. Then push the head back, raising the chin. Return to center. Repeat this five times.
- Neck Turn: While keeping the chin at the same height, turn the head to one side. Do this gently, only slightly causing muscles to tense. Hold for five seconds, then return to center. Repeat with other side. Do this exercise five times for each side.
- Neck Drop and Raise: While sitting in a chair or standing very straight, drop the head forward. Touch chin to chest and hold for 10 seconds. Return to natural position. Tilt head back slightly and hold for 10 seconds. Make sure to repeat forward five times and also to the back five times.
- Head Tilt: Sit in a chair. Push left shoulder down while tilting head toward right shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Relax. Repeat in opposite direction, making sure to press down with right shoulder while tilting the head toward the left shoulder. Complete five times with each shoulder.
- Shoulder Rolls: While seated, roll both shoulders forward slowly at the same time. Relax. Roll shoulders slowly backward. Repeat five times in each direction.
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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.
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Ways To Manage Arthritis
There are a lot of things you can do to manage your arthritis. The day-to-day things you choose to do to manage your condition and stay healthy are self-management strategies and activities. CDCs Arthritis Program recognizes five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms.
Practice these simplestrategies to reduce symptoms and get relief soyou can pursue the activities that are important to you. These strategies can even help you manage other chronic conditions you may have, such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.
Use these 5 strategies to manage your arthritis at any age.
Join a self-management education workshop, which can help you learn the skills to manage your arthritis and make good decisions about your health.
How can a self-management education workshop help me?
Learning strategies to better manage your arthritis can help you:
- Feel more in control of your health.
- Manage pain and other symptoms.
- Plan and carry out valuedactivities, like working and spending time with loved ones.
- Reduce stress.
- Improve your mood.
- Communicate better with your health care provider about your care.
Learn about CDC-recognized self-management education programs that improve the quality of life of people with arthritis.
Stay as active as your health allows. Some physical activity is better than none.
Unsure about what kind of activity is safe?
The focus of arthritis treatment is to
Should I See A Doctor
You should talk to your doctor or other health professional if your pain is bothering you. They will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. In most cases tests such as x-rays and blood tests are not helpful in finding out the cause of neck pain unless there has been an obvious injury or strain. They may check for any serious medical problems that could be causing your pain, but these are rare. You should see your doctor if:
- you have neck pain following a fall or accident, such as a car accident
- your pain does not settle down or starts getting worse
- you also have symptoms such as headache and vomiting, dizziness, losing weight, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, sweats and chills or problems swallowing.
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Arthritis Of The Neck Treatment
Your treatment will depend on the cause of the pinched nerve. Treatment may include:
- Physical therapyA certified physical therapist will teach you exercises to reduce pain, improve flexibility and strengthen muscles in the neck.
- Medicine Over-the-counter and prescription medicine can help relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation and help you find comfort.
- Injections Corticosteroid injections, medial branch blocks and other injections can help reduce inflammation and help relieve pain caused by arthritis in the neck.
- Acupuncture Thin needles are inserted into specific spots along the spine to trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body, helping reduce pain. Acupuncture, along with traditional treatment, like pain management or physical therapy helps with pain.
- Massage Medical massage therapy can help reduce inflammation, ease pain and provide relief from certain back conditions. Your doctor may recommend massage therapy along with other treatments.
- Anti-inflammatory Diet A diet that helps boost your bodys natural ability to fight inflammation may help reduce symptoms, when combined with other treatment plans.
Generally, surgery is not needed to treat arthritis. Your provider may recommend surgery if your arthritis is causing another cervical spine condition, like a pinched nerve.
Best Foods For Arthritis
There are foods that will help you ease the pain and inflammation of arthritis. Here are some of the best foods you can add to your diet to treat arthritis symptoms:
Fatty FishFatty fish like trout, mackerel, and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties. They reduce inflammation, joint pain, and stiffness.
GarlicThe anti-inflammatory effect of garlic will help in treating the symptoms of arthritis. It also boosts your bodys immune system.
GingerGinger has components that prevent the production of substances that cause inflammation in the body.
Olive OilDue to its anti-inflammatory properties, olive oil will reduce arthritis symptoms. You can use it in your cooking or take it in capsules.
WalnutsThey have markers that help in reducing inflammation in arthritis. They have a very high omega-3 fatty acids content.
BerriesThey contain a compound known as quercetin that blocks inflammatory processes that are accompanied by arthritis.
SpinachSpinach contains antioxidants that fight inflammation. The consumption of other fruits and vegetables also leads to lower risks of inflammation.
Before seeking home remedies, make sure you get a go-ahead from your doctor especially if you are to take them in combination with medication.
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Diagnosis Of Neck Arthritis
A thorough assessment from a physiotherapist combined with appropriate investigations is usually required to diagnose neck arthritis. An X-ray of the spine will typically demonstrate degenerative changes associated with the condition. Other investigations such as CT scans, bone scans or MRIs may also be indicated to assess the severity and to determine the exact structures that are affected.
Phone And Internet Posture
Constantly looking down at your phone or jutting your chin forward while using a computer can intensify neck pain, especially in people with diagnosed neck arthritis.
The digital culture we live in doesnt always benefit our posture, which is why using technology mindfully with armrests and back support is so important.
In a small 2018 study about posture as a risk factor for neck pain, study participants who kept their phone at eye level and had extra neck, shoulder, and back support showed fewer signs of physical stress than those who had no chair support.
Manual labor jobs and those that require extended hours on the computer are also hard on the neck and shoulder muscles.
When possible, remember to take daily breaks to perform the exercises listed above.
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Tips For Easier Reading
When does your neck hurt the most? If its after reading, try propping your book on a pillow or use a lightweight e-reader that you can hold at eye level to avoid bending your neck down for long periods. Try doing more work at the computer instead of on your phoneall that hunching over can lead to a case of text neck. And ask your rheumatologist for a referral to an occupational therapist who can help make adjustments to your workstation or suggest other neck-saving tools.
Vs Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis In The Neck
Osteoarthritis in the neck is a type of arthritis that happens due to wear and tear of the joints, vertebrae, and discs in the neck.
Most people have no symptoms of osteoarthritis in the neck. If people do have symptoms, they can include:
- mild to severe pain and stiffness in the neck
- pain that is worse after activity
- pain that gets worse when looking up or down, or holding the neck in a set position for a long time
- pain may improve when lying down or resting
- numbness, tingling, or weakness in hands, arms, or legs
- muscle spasms in the neck or shoulders
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks synovium the lining of the joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in other joints, it can also affect the spine, specifically the cervical region . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is not caused by wear and tear, so its considered an inflammatory arthritis. It may cause back pain even when these joints are not in use. It tends to affect women more than men.