What Are The Causes Of Neck Arthritis
The most common neck arthritis causes are the degenerative processes in the joints, vertebrae, and discs resulting from the normal wear and tear that comes with age. Additionally, the disks start losing water content, tightening the disk spaces and causing friction between the separate vertebrae.
For the autoimmune types of arthritis, there are no specific causes, but instead, we distinguish several risk factors, including genetics, smoking, occupation, and previous injuries to the neck.
When You Should Consider Surgery
For most people with arthritis of the neck, time and nonsurgical measures will relieve the discomfort. But if you have a herniated disk that causes spinal nerve compression with symptoms like pain, weakness and numbness that dont go away, it may be time to consider surgery.
One way to surgically correct a pinched nerve is with a diskectomy. The surgeon removes part of the damaged disk to relieve pressure on the nerve. Then the vertebrae may be fused or welded together to stabilize the spine. Another surgical option is a posterior foraminotomy, which widens the opening of the spine where the nerve passes through, and removes any bone spurs that are pressing on the nerve.
Compression of the spinal cord can be treated several ways surgically. They all create more space for the nerves. Anterior decompression and fusion surgery is similar to the treatment of a pinched nerve. Cord compression can also be addressed by removing a part of the vertebra called the lamina or a procedure called a laminoplasty.
The vast majority of people with a pinched nerve will improve following surgery. People with spinal cord compression also improve, but the extent of improvement depends on the severity of neurological dysfunction before the surgery, says Dr. Mroz.
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.
Treating Cervical Spondylosis Pain
Our team at Manhattan Orthopedics takes a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating cervical spondylosis. We generally diagnose the condition following a review of your medical history and a physical exam. We may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, to confirm your diagnosis.
Cervical spondylosis symptoms are often well-managed with conservative treatments. We may recommend rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other non-narcotic drugs to reduce inflammation and pain.
Physical therapy can also improve neck pain and other symptoms of cervical spondylosis. Our team recommends neck exercises and other therapies to build strength and improve mobility in your neck. Local anesthetic injections or corticosteroid shots may also be a treatment option.
Dont ignore your neck pain. Find out if it could be the result of neck arthritis and get a treatment plan thats right for you by scheduling your first appointment at Manhattan Orthopedics today.
You Might Also Enjoy…
Don’t Miss: What Do You Do For Arthritis In Your Fingers
How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Cervical Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease in which the immune system, which is designed to attack foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses, mistakenly attacks other healthy areas of the body, including the spines facet joints and even organ systems. Untreated, attacked joints can become deformed and lose their mobility.
When it comes to spine pain, a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is limited to the cervical spine. People can have problems, such as facet joint arthritis, further down the spine, but this is likely not due to RA. It is possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time.
If you have RA, you are part of a group of 1.3 million other Americans who have the disease.1 The disease causes morning joint stiffness that can last one to two hours or the whole day. It generally improves with movement of the joints. Other signs and symptoms include loss of energy, low fevers, loss of appetite, and lumps in the elbows and hands, called rheumatoid nodules. About 75% of RA patients are women, but cervical spine involvement is more common in male patients and those with a positive rheumatoid factor.
When rheumatoid arthritis loosens ligaments, erodes bone or causes thickened tissue around the atlantoaxial joint, it can compress the spinal cord and brain stem, which can lead to paralysis or even death if the neck is moved in certain positions. Fortunately, there are many treatments to avoid these outcomes.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Arthritis In Thumb
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.
Causes Of Cervical Osteoarthritis
Cervical osteoarthritis becomes more common as people age, so the natural wear and tear sustained by the facet joints over time is considered to be a major factor in its development. However, the medical community continues to study the issue and other factors also appear to play a role in the development of osteoarthritis, including:
- Genetics. Some evidence suggests that osteoarthritis can run in families, which would indicate some people are genetically predisposed to having cartilage that breaks down sooner.
- Injury. If the joint becomes injured, such as a tear in the cartilage and/or protective joint capsule, the joint can become more inflamed and cartilage can wear down sooner. Joint injuries can happen in various ways, such as from a fall or while participating in a sport.
- Occupation. Certain occupations, such as jobs that involve lots of repetitive motions or heavy lifting like construction, can put more stress on the cervical spine.
- Weight. People who are overweight tend to develop osteoarthritis sooner, including in the neck. More weight means more stress on the joints, but another possibility could be that people with excess weight might experience more damaging inflammation.1
Currently, the medical literature has limited data on whether or not smoking contributes to osteoarthritis in the spine.2 However, smoking has been linked to increasing neck pain in general.
Don’t Miss: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Skin Rashes
What Are The Treatments For Neck Arthritis
Neck arthritis treatment usually involves over-the-counter NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and analgesics to relieve pain and inflammation. Nevertheless, always consult with a doctor about your therapy as these drugs can also have side effects and interactions with other medications.
For treating autoimmune arthritis, we use disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs such as methotrexate, leflunomide, and sulfasalazine. Their goal is to modulate the immune system activity to control inflammation and its related symptoms and slow down the disease progression.
In some cases, your doctor can recommend visiting a physiotherapist to perform specific exercises to strengthen the muscles around the neck and increase flexibility and range of motion.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Decrease Arthritis Inflammation
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.
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.
Recommended Reading: Is Moringa Good For Arthritis
Best 3 Physical Therapy Exercises For Pain & Stiffness From Neck Arthritis
Hey, Im going to show you the three best physical therapy exercises, if youve got pain and stiffness coming from neck arthritis. My name is Dr. David Middaugh, and Im a specialist physical therapist El Paso Manual Physical Therapy. And this channel is dedicated to helping people stay healthy, active, and mobile. while avoiding unnecessary surgery, injections and pain medications. Please subscribe to our channel so that you dont miss out on any of the helpful videos we upload every single week.
Im about to get into the three exercises to get you this relief from your neck arthritis. But if youre not sure, if youve got neck arthritis, then youve got to check out our video that weve linked in the description below. That covers five signs that youve got neck arthritis, if youve never seen a doctor for this. If youve never had an X ray, and youve been told that you have neck arthritis, go check out that video right now to make sure that this is the right exercise video for you.
Okay, now that weve cleared that up, lets get into the first exercise, its going to be a double chin neck mobility exercise that Ive talked about this in a few other videos, but it is so fundamental to make sure all the bones in your neck, all the joints in your neck are moving correctly by firing a deep core muscle of the neck.
Find Effective Physical Therapy For Neck Arthritis At Back In Motion
Not sure where to turn for top-notch physical therapy for neck arthritis? Our Back in Motion Physical Therapy team is primed to help you find the help you need for this condition. We offer free screenings that can confirm your neck symptoms are being caused by arthritis.
Additionally, our physical therapists are adept at creating personalized therapy plans designed to offer neck arthritis patients all the benefits above and more. We even offer at-home care and virtual therapy services that allow you to treat your symptoms from home.
Contact us today for more information about our arthritis treatment services or to schedule an initial appointment.
Don’t Miss: Do I Have Arthritis In My Hands
Give Yourself Some Time
If you have neck pain, modify your activities for a few weeks to avoid putting additional strain on your neck. To relieve more severe pain, you can take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or get a prescription from your doctor. The drug gabapentin may help with nerve-related neck pain.
If you dont improve on these medications, your doctor might suggest an epidural steroid injection to decrease inflammation around and inside the nerve.
Once the pain subsides, Dr. Mroz recommends seeing a physical therapist or doing range-of-motion exercises to improve mobility in your neck and prevent stiffness. If youre still having pain after six weeks, see a doctor.
The Types Of Neck Arthritis
There are three predominant forms of arthritis in the neck that have different causes, mechanisms, and slightly varying symptoms.
Osteoarthritis in the NeckOsteoarthritis in the neck refers to the degeneration of structures in the spinal column typically occurring with age.
With time, the vertebrae progressively lose the padding between them, which causes friction. The latter can lead to the breaking off of tiny bone fragments or enhanced growth of shart bony structures called osteophytes.
Ultimately, in this type, neck arthritis symptoms include neck pain, stiffness, and inflammation that worsens with physical activity.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Neck Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body mistakenly attacks the tissues. Usually, the changes predominantly affect the small joints in the hands and feet, but they can also cause arthritis in the neck.
Spondyloarthritis Spondyloarthritis is an umbrella term for psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Both of these neck arthritis causes are autoimmune disorders presenting with chronic joint inflammation.
Psoriatic arthritis comes with psoriasis an autoimmune inflammation of the skin presenting with red, itchy, and scaly patches.
On the other hand, ankylosing spondylitis affects the whole spinal column and the pelvis.
Recommended Reading: Can Liver Disease Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis
Ways To Treat Neck Pain At Home
In addition to medical treatments, consider:
- Exercise. When your disease isnt active, get moving just dont overdo it. In moderation, it can reduce your pain, help with movement, make you feel less tired, and its just a good thing to do for overall health. Your local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation may offer water exercise and other kinds of classes specifically for people with arthritis.
- Ice packs. The next time you need to reduce swelling and pain, go to your freezer and grab a bag of frozen peas or corn these aids conform easily to the neck area.
- Not smoking. If you smoke, find a way to stop. The chance of complications from RA increases if you smoke, as do your odds of developing osteoporosis.
- Warm baths. Besides helping with sleep, a warm bath can soothe achy joints and relax muscle tension.
- Herbal remedies. If youre looking for natural relief, turmeric, the common kitchen spice, is known to be an anti-inflammatory and may reduce neck pain caused by inflammation. Boswellia is another natural pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Yoga exercise. This ancient practice, which involves stretches, poses, and meditation, is not only a great exercise, but it also relieves stress and neck pain by reducing tension.
- Massage. Have your partner or a professional gently massage your neck where it hurts, for temporary relief.
What Are The Symptoms
Neck pain can be felt in the middle of the neck or on either side. The pain may travel to the shoulder or shoulder blade, and may even go right down your arm. Headaches and pain at the back of the head may also be caused by problems with your neck. Your neck may feel stiff, making it difficult to turn or move your head.
You May Like: What’s Better For Arthritis Heat Or Ice
Risk Factors For Cervical Spondylosis
Risk factors for cervical spondylosis include:
- Age as people age, they are at a higher risk for developing arthritis in the neck.
- Genetics there is evidence that osteoarthritis is hereditary therefore, some people may be predisposed to the condition.
- Occupation careers that involve repetitive neck motions can add extra stress on your neck.
- Neck injuries if you have had a previous neck injury, you may be at a higher risk to develop arthritis in the neck.
- Genetic factors there is evidence that arthritis in the neck is hereditary.
- Smoking smoking can increase pain in the neck.
- Weight overweight people put more weight on the joints and tend to develop neck osteoarthritis sooner.