Arthritis In The Neck
Arthritis in the Neck is a degenerative joint disease that affects the neck at the top of the cervical spine and spinal column. The muscles, discs and spinal nerves affect your ability turn your head as well as lower and raise your head. When you have neck arthritis you may have limited range of motion, and you may not be able to move your neck around to see to the side of you without turning your whole body.
It is a condition that affects people during their midlife years and beyond . More men are affected with arthritis in the neck than women and they also seem to develop it at an earlier age as well. With the use of electronic devices for long periods of time, now younger women and men are experiencing neck pain and symptoms of degenerative neck arthritis. Im sure youve seen the posture that matches the Facebook symbol
What Causes Neck Pain?
What Causes Neck Pain in arthritis? Poor posture, injury, not using an ergonomic chair or pillow. It can be from Osteoarthritis in the neck or Rheumatoid arthritis in the neck Neck arthritis pain has a burning type of pain that frequently radiates into your facial area as well as your shoulder area. It can be aggravated by a neck injury or strain that will cause swelling and sometimes you will hear a popping sound when you move your head.
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 necks vertebrae.
- Splints to support swollen, painful joints
- Surgery when necessary this may involve joint replacement , reconstruction of tendons, or removal of inflamed tissue.
What Do I Need To Know About Neck Anatomy
You dont need to memorize the physiology and anatomy of your neck to improve its function and reduce pain, but its helpful to have a general understanding of your cervical spine.
Neck mobility is matchless. Although you wont get any Exorcist-style head spinning, it is capable of moving the head in many directions: 90° of flexion , 90° of extension , 180° of rotation , and almost 120° of tilt to either shoulder.
But all that mobility comes at the cost of complexity. First youve got your seven vertebrae , each cushioned by an intervertebral disc and connected by facet joints. There are also 32 muscles, plus the tendons that attach them to bones, that help move and stabilize the neck, as well as a number of ligaments attaching bones to each other. Thats a lot of action in a comparatively small area.
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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.
Preventing And Living With Neck Pain
While avoiding neck pain isnt always possible, you can keep your neck muscles strain- and stress-free by creating healthy habits. Instead of in front of a computer all day, for example, take stretch breaks throughout the day.
If your neck pain feels worse at the end of each day, consider your posture. Are you sitting up straight? Sitting in your chair with your feet flat on the floor?
If your neck pain feels worse in the morning, check your sleep position and pillow. Use a pillow that supports your neck and keeps it straight. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted, if possible.
What if you go to sleep feeling fine and wake up with neck pain? Daily life can take its toll on your neck. If you wake up with neck pain, the best thing to do is give your body time to heal on its own. To get through the day without letting the pain interfere with your normal activities, you have a few options.
- Gently stretch your neck: the Spine Universe Exercise Center offers a video with 3 neck stretches and exercises to help relieve a stiff neck.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Advil.
- Alternate between heat and ice treatments on your neck: 20 minutes of heat followed by 20 minutes of ice should help relieve the pain and expedite the healing process.
- Rest: take a few days off from any strenuous activities that aggravate your symptoms, such as sports and heavy lifting.
Already dealing with neck pain?
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What Is Neck Pain
Neck pain is the worst kind of overachiever. It’s so common that it’s the fourth-leading cause of disability globally, following ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lower respiratory infection. Nearly 30 percent experience it each year.
And it’s not always centralized in the neck. It can radiate across your whole upper body, affecting your shoulders, arms and chest and can even cause headaches. Living with neck pain can be miserable, making it hard to focus and get through the day.
Neck pain can be debilitating and may interfere with day-to-day life, including your ability to sleep, feel productive, and enjoy time with friends and family. And it affects more than just your physical body. Studies have shown that chronic pain can have an impact on a persons mental health up to 85 percent of patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression.
How Can You Prevent Arthritis In The Neck
One of the best ways to prevent arthritis in the neck is by maintaining good posture.
“Maintaining correct posture throughout the day and during sleep, coupled with neck strengthening exercises, may help to prevent development of arthritis in the neck,” Dr. Singh says.
So check your postureespecially if you work behind a computer all day long or have a habit of scrolling social media on your phone.
“Incorrect posture, such as being hunched forward when looking at a computer or phone, applies pressure to the neck and spine,” he says. “Good posture, when ears are directly over the shoulders, with the chest open and shoulder back, can relieve neck pain and help prevent arthritis in the neck.”
Don’t forget proper sleep posture.
“Having good neck and back support during sleep, by utilizing a mattress and pillow that correspond to your sleep position, can help prevent neck arthritis,” Dr. Singh says.
Maintaining a routine of neck-strengthening exercises and neck-flexibility exercises also can help prevent arthritis in the neck.
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How Chiropractic Can Help With Neck Arthritis
Have you tried treating your neck pain at home, to no avail? Is this an ongoing issue that youre not sure how to tackle yourself? Or, perhaps youre looking to be more proactive about some of your health concerns. If any of these describe your current situation, its time to seek professional help.
Chiropractic care can provide the relief you are seeking. Gentle, chiropractic adjustments of the spine help to alleviate pressure in your joints, decrease inflammation, and allow your entire body to function optimally. Additionally, your practitioner can recommend appropriate at-home exercises specific to your injury history to perform outside of the office. This can pay huge dividends toward your healing timeline.
Surgery For Neck Arthritis
Surgery is usually a last resort for neck arthritis, says Dr. Milani. Your doctor may recommend it if you have severe pain that isnt relieved with nonsurgical treatment or if you have signs of neurologic injury. Surgery may be needed if the arthritis causes instability, or more importantly, impingement of nerves and/or the spinal cord, says Dr. Shah.
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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
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.
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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.
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.
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Neck Pain Prevention Is Key
You can prevent some neck pain with these steps:
Learn stretching exercises. Consult a physical therapist if necessary. You should stretch every day especially before and after you exercise. If after exercising, your neck hurts, apply ice immediately.
Keep your back and neck supported. This is a must, especially sitting at your computer. If your computer is at eye level, it will keep you from having to look up and down and constantly change your neck position. Use a headset when talking on the telephone to avoid straining your neck.
Sleep with support. Use a firm mattress. If your neck is sore in the morning, you might want to buy a pillow that supports your neck as well.
Protect yourself from trauma by always using a seat belt when riding in a car.
Managing neck pain requires a consistent approach and carefully following the treatment plan outlined by your healthcare provider. Youre the one in charge of making sure you take the time to exercise, strengthen, and soothe muscles. At times youll feel challenged, but if you stay determined, youll have the best possible outcome.
New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.
If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.
What Causes Neck Arthritis
The human head weighs roughly as much as a ten-pound bowling ball. Its no surprise that the stress of supporting our heads can cause wear-and-tear on the discs and joints in our necks.
These changes occur in almost everyone, even if a person has no symptoms at all. In fact, nearly half of all middle-aged and older people have worn discs and joints that do not cause any painful symptoms.
Below are some of the most common risk factors.
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How Is Cervical Spondylosis Diagnosed
The doctor will generally begin by asking you about symptoms and taking a medical history. This will be followed by a physical exam of the body, with a focus on the neck, back, and shoulders. The doctor is also likely to test reflexes and the strength of hands and arms, check for loss of sensation, and watch you walk.
Other tests that might be done include imaging exams such as X-rays, computed tomography , and magnetic resonance imaging . MRI scans use large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to produce the best images of the body. You might also be referred to a neurologist.
How Is Arthritis In The Neck Diagnosed
Following a review of your medical history, your doctor will conduct a physical exam wherein he or she will evaluate the following:
- blood flow
- touch sensation
If necessary, your doctor may order one or more diagnostic imaging tests. These can include X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or myelography.
An X-rays will reveal the alignment of the bones in your neck and can document degenerative changes in your cervical spine.
Because it shows 3D images, a CT scan offers a more-detailed look at your spinal canal than an X-ray, which may reveal bone spurs.
An MRI provides a detailed look at the soft tissues in the neck, so your doctor can determine whether damage to these tissues might be causing your symptoms.
Myelography is a type of imaging test that uses an X-ray or CT scan and contrast dye to get a picture of the spinal cord and nerve roots in the spinal canal.
Your doctor also may perform a nerve function test.
“Nerve function tests, such as a nerve conduction study and/or electromyography , can be conducted to determine if the nerve signals are being transmitted to the individual’s muscles,” Dr. Singh says.
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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.
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.
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How Are Bone Spurs In The Neck Diagnosed
To diagnose a bone spur in the neck, a doctor will first perform a physical exam. They may ask you questions about any symptoms you have and test the range of motion of your neck. A bone spur on the neck may be confirmed via imaging tests, such as:
- magnetic resonance imaging
The tests can also help diagnose underlying causes, such as OA.
Your doctor may also recommend an electroconductive test to help detect nerve injuries in your spinal cord. Blood testing may also be ordered to rule out the possibility of other underlying diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for bone spurs depends on the severity of your symptoms and overall condition.
More mild cases may be treated with one or more of the following options:
- physical therapy to increase range of motion
- massage therapy to help manage pain
In more severe cases where symptoms dont respond to therapy and medication, a doctor may recommend cervical spine surgery.
The type of surgery for neck bone spurs will vary based on the underlying cause and location some examples include:
- spinal fusion to seal two or more vertebrae back together
- anterior cervical discectomy to remove spurs and discs through the front of your neck
- anterior cervical corpectomy to remove and replace vertebrae when bone spurs cant be eliminated via discectomy
- posterior cervical laminectomy to remove the lamina on the back of your neck and help get rid of bone spurs that may be pressing on spinal nerves