Medication Options For Neck Arthritis
Analgesic and NSAID pain medication
Over-the-counter medications can be used to help address pain, inflammation, and swelling. NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Analgesics can help with mild to moderate pain. Your doctor can prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory if OTC medications dont provide relief.
Even though many commonly used NSAIDs are available over the counter, its important to talk to your doctor about side effects and drug interactions. NSAIDs can have significant side effects, including gastrointestinal complications, and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Disease-modifying arthritis medication
Neck pain due to inflammatory arthritis is typically treated with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug , such as methotrexate for RA. Other conventional DMARDs include leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine. Biologics are a newer type of DMARD that target specific immune system pathways. DMARDs help to reduce the immune system activity that is triggering inflammation and pain.
Steroid injections and nerve blocks
An epidural steroid injection is where doctors inject medicine directly into the epidural space of the spinal canal surrounding the nerve roots. The medicine is a combination of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic, which together reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The anesthesia offers temporary pain relief and the corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the joint.
How Is The Neck Structured
Your neck and back are made up of small bones called vertebrae. These are stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column.
The spinal column supports your head and protects the spinal cord. This is the main structure which links the network of nerves throughout your body. Messages travel along this network sending sensations, such as pain, to your brain.
The top seven bones in the spinal column form your neck, and these are called the cervical vertebrae. The bones are linked together by facet joints. These are small joints between your vertebrae that, together with your neck muscles, allow you to move your head in any direction.
Between the vertebrae are discs of cartilage. The discs act as shock absorbers and give the spine its flexibility. A slipped disc occurs when one of these discs slips slightly out of its natural position in the spine.
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.
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How Will I Know If I Have Neck Arthritis
Like arthritis in other joints, the main symptoms of neck arthritis are pain and stiffness. These symptoms may get worse when you keep your neck in one position for a long time. For example, you may notice more severe symptoms after holding your neck still while looking up at a movie screen, looking down to read a book, or staring straight ahead to drive long distances.
Your neck consists of the upper part of your spine, also called your cervical spine. It runs from the top of your torso to the base of your skull. If you have neck arthritis, you may notice headaches or pains in your shoulders because your neck connects these areas. Neck muscle are also common, as are popping and grinding sounds.
The bones, or vertebrae, in your neck protect your spinal cord and spinal nerves. With neck arthritis, you can develop pressure on your spinal cord and pinched nerves. If this happens, you may notice weakness and in your arms, hands, legs and feet. This can lead to problems walking and keeping your balance.
You will most likely need a doctor to diagnose you with neck . To diagnose neck arthritis, your doctor may use the following exams and tests:
Complete physical exam
Blood tests and other lab tests
X-rays, MRIs or CT imaging exams
Myelography, which is a special type of X-ray with a dye to look at your spinal canal and your spinal nerves
, which tests for nerve damage or pinched nerves
Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Neck
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease where the bodys immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints. It often starts in the smaller joints of your hands and feet and can spread to other parts of the body like the neck as the disease progresses. This typically doesnt happen until years after the onset of arthritis symptoms.
Neck pain is the primary symptom of rheumatoid arthritis in the neck, with the severity varying 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 make it hard to move from side to side.
The difference between rheumatoid arthritis neck pain and a neck injury is that stiffness and pain from an injury can gradually improve over days or weeks. Rheumatoid arthritis in the neck may not get better it can worsen if left untreated. Even if symptoms improve, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness can return with rheumatoid arthritis in the neck.
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Your Neck Pain Could Actually Be Neck Arthritis
That achy stiffness youre experiencing might be more than just a pain in the neck. It could actually be cervical spondylosis but the good news is, there are steps you can take to help relieve it.
Here at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Phoenix and Sun City West, Arizona, Drs. Abhishiek Sharma and Erik Curtis, along with our highly trained team, offer personalized neurological care including physical therapy, medication, complementary treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and as a last resort, minimally invasive surgery. Whether you have a spinal condition, chronic pain, epilepsy, neurotrauma, or another issue, we provide a friendly, comfortable environment with physicians and staff who make you a full partner in your care.
Below, wed like to offer you information on neck arthritis what it is, how to know youre at risk, signs to look for, and available treatments.
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Can My Headaches Be Caused By Arthritis In My Neck Some Non
Lots of people get headaches every now and again. Your cervical vertebrae, located at the top of your spine, support the weight of your head on a delicate column. If you have osteoarthritis that impacts the vertebrae at the top of your spine, your headaches could actually be related to this larger condition, called cervicogenic headaches. With treatment, you can address your arthritis symptoms and headaches.
The experienced care team at Spine & Joint Physicians of Frisco, led by S. Justin Badiyan, MD, can diagnose the real cause of your neck pain and help you put together a useful, noninvasive treatment plan. With the right support, including minimally invasive procedures, non-opioid medications, and physical therapy, you may be able to solve the issue without needing to resort to surgical treatment.
Heres what we think you should know about the connection between headache pain and arthritis in your neck.
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Spinal Cord Stimulation: An Alternative Or Adjunct To Medication For Spinal Osteoarthritis
If youve taken several medications for your spinal osteoarthritis with little relief, your doctor may recommend spinal cord stimulation , also known as neuromodulation to help relieve your chronic back or neck pain.
Spinal cord stimulation generates mild electrical impulses that block pain signals from reaching your brain. Pain is perceived in the brain. Neuromodulation involves implanting a small generator either in your abdominal or buttock area and thin wires called leads into the spinal canal. Some patients are not candidates for SCS, such as people who are pregnant, have a heart condition, epilepsy or have an existing implanted device such as a pacemaker. If your doctor recommends SCS, the first step is a trial period where the system is temporarily worn outside your body. If your pain improves using the stimulator, the device may be implanted surgically.
For some patients, spinal cord stimulation also helps them reduce their dependence on opioids or other pain medications. If youre concerned about tapering or weaning off your pain medication, talk to your doctor about strategies that may ease this process.
What Treatments Are Available
Healing begins with self-care and nonsurgical strategies . The goal is to correct the problem, restore function, and prevent re-injury.
Self care: Neck pain often resolves with rest, ice or heat, massage, pain relievers, and gentle stretches. Reduce muscle inflammation and pain using an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Thereafter, a warm shower or heating pad on low setting may be added to relax the muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If self-care treatments arent working within the first couple of days, see your doctor.
Medications: Many people get pain relief with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. A muscle relaxant may be prescribed for spasms. If pain is severe, an analgesic may be prescribed that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant.
Steroids can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally as a Medrol dose pack tapered over a five-day period or by an injection directly into the pain source . Steroids may provide immediate pain relief within 24-hours.
Surgery: Surgery is rarely needed unless you have muscle weakness, a proven disc herniation, cervical cord compression, problems with balance and coordination, or severe pain that does not resolve after a reasonable course of nonsurgical treatment.
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Stretches That Will Relieve Neck Pain And Tension
Stiff neck? The area above your shoulders is one that commonly holds tension, especially if youre sitting at a desk all day or constantly staring down at your phone screen.
According to research, neck pain may feel like a kink, stiffness or severe pain. This pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back or arms, or it may trigger headaches and cause numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms.
In general, neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull into the shoulders. And technology is one of the major culprits. As a culture we put our necks through hell with our reliance on technology, which creates forward head carriage, and results in neck muscles that go into spasm and refer pain into our heads, temples, and even behind our eyes, says Brad Butler, chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions.
The most common causes of neck pain are either postural or positional. The modern-day life style of sitting at a desk looking over a computer for multiple hours unfortunately leads to a forward head position where the skull moves forward of its placement on the first cervical vertebra, says Lara Heimann, physical therapist and creator of LYT Style Yoga.Every millimeter that the skull is off-center places a strain on the posterior neck muscles. These muscles on the back of the neck have a chronic stress and load on them that creates tension and pain.
Disk Degeneration And Bone Spurs
As the disks in the spine age, they lose height and begin to bulge. They also lose water content, begin to dry out and weaken. This problem causes settling, or collapse, of the disk spaces and loss of disk space height. Eventually, the cushioning qualities of the disks begins to decrease.
As the facet joints experience increased pressure, they also begin to degenerate and develop arthritis, similar to what may occur in the hip or knee joint. The smooth, slippery articular cartilage that covers and protects the joints wears away.
If the cartilage wears away completely, it can result in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for the lost cartilage, your body may respond by growing new bone in your facet joints to help support the vertebrae. Over time, this bone overgrowth called bone spurs may narrow the space for the nerves and spinal cord to pass through . Bone spurs may also lead to decreased range of motion in the spine.
Side view of a healthy cervical vertebra and disk. A disk that has degenerated and collapsed.
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Neck Arthritis Treatment: Medical Intervention
In cases of neck arthritis where symptoms do not improve with natural treatments, non-natural, medical intervention, may be necessary.
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe a steroid-based injection, which is a mix of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic.
These injections are used to reduce inflammation in the spinal canal and reduce symptoms of neck arthritis.
Your doctor may determine that you need surgery for your neck arthritis if:
Patients who have neurologic symptoms, like arm weakness, numbness, or falling, are more likely to see symptoms improve after having surgery.
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.
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When To See A Physician
Using home remedies for mild cases of pain or discomfort from neck arthritis is fine, but there are some occasions when checking in with your doctor is important. Symptoms that may require you to visit your physician for your cervical spondylosis may include:
- Pain or tenderness in multiple joints
- Redness and swelling in your joints that does not resolve within a few days
- Pain or swelling that limits your normal functional activity
- Pain that is accompanied by fever, malaise, or sudden and unexplained weight loss
Since cervical spondylosis is a wear and tear condition, you may notice that you have some good days and some bad days. Most often, your home remedies should be able to help you maintain mobility and function when your pain increases.
Keeping the pain at bay may be done with exercise and with gentle stretches. If your neck pain from spondylosis lasts for more than a few weeks, check in with your doctor.
Make Your Own Heat Pad
Fill a cotton sock with uncooked rice grains and seal it. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. When it cools down slightly but is still nice and warm, place it on sore, stiff joints. Your DIY heat pad should stay warm for about half an hour. The rice grains will shape to your body and provide soothing heat. If you have lavender or another fragrant herb on hand, toss it in with the rice grains for an additional relaxing aromatherapy treatment, too. Check out these other home remedies for arthritis even doctors recommend.
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Treatment For Arthritis In The Neck
There is a Natural Treatment for Arthritis in the Neck that will help you not only relieve your neck pain and gain greater neck mobility but also improve your neck arthritis and heal your cervical spine. Neck pain is a tricky thing that usually takes a few weeks to feel completely better. Using the recommended treatment for neck pain can get you feeling better in a fraction of the time it usually takes to be neck pain free.
Learn to Stretch you neck when you get a flare and help stop the pain in its tracks. When you strengthen and balance the muscles in your neck you will take a lot of pressure off of your spinal column and allow your neck to sit in its properly balanced location. Use these natural arthritis neck treatment options to relieve the pressure off your neck, clean up the damage in your discs and joints and begin healing the cartilage, discs and pinched nerves if you have any:
Go at your own bodys pace and you will be helping others, because they will be asking what it is that you did to recover. Be sure to check out the Healthy Back and Neck Institutes tips for eliminating neck pain at home quickly and easily by visiting Lose the Neck Pain.
Make Sure Your Doctor Knows About All Medications Vitamins And Supplements
Talk to your doctor about which pain medications are best for you. Be sure to let your doctor know what other medications you are taking, even for other health problems. Besides other drugs you take, tell your doctor about any vitamins, supplements or herbal products you use. This can help you to avoid drug interactions. Here are other tips for safely using medication.
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