Neck Arthritis Treatment

Neck arthritis can be very bothersome. This is cause by various arthritic conditions like fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and more. So far the most widespread type of arthritis in the neck is neck osteoarthritis or also called cervical spondylosis or cervical arthritis.

This condition often begins with neck pain and when left untreated, it can get worst and deteriorate over time. This condition happens when a cartilage in the joint wears away due to natural aging process, injury in the affected area or a combination of both. The most common symptoms of arthritis in the neck include stiffness and pain in the neck.

These symptoms may get worst when standing than lying down because of the effects of gravity in the spine. Sleeping also makes the symptom worst since at night the neck relax thus won’t be able to provide additional support to the spine. In the absence of neck muscles, arthritic neck may end up with more pressure the already irritated and compressed nerves which often results to further pain and inflammation.

Unfortunately pain is not just felt in the neck but it can spread to areas like the head, arms, chest wall, shoulder blades and the upper back. The source of pain does originate from the neck but it can affect other areas due to compression of the nerves in the neck. That is because the brain cannot really tell where the source of the pain is thus it sees pain in multiple area and this is often called as referred pain.

Aside from stiffness and pain in the neck, other symptoms may include tenderness, weakness and numbness in areas like fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and face; headache, dizziness. Rare symptoms include trouble swallowing, ears ringing, chest pain near the heart and trouble with walking because of weakness in legs.

There are various forms of neck arthritis treatment depending on the severity of the condition from a simple rest to surgery. But most cases of neck arthritis respond to exercise. It is important to maintain an active motion in the neck, it is still recommended that one should use a neck collar during night time for support when your neck muscles relax. A good set of diet for arthritis should be observed for this can aid in treating the symptoms.

Uncomplicated neck arthritis often responds to hot and cold therapy, controlled exercises and massage. Your healthcare provider should design an exercise program that is tailored for your condition and a physical therapist can work with you until you can perform the exercises on your own.

Other treatment that you may consider for neck arthritis is injections in the trigger points. For individuals who experience chronic pain which last for more than 3 months, a radiofrequency neurotomy may be done. This is done under fluoroscopic guidance where the small nerves in the facet joint are burned. Once these nerves are burned, the joints no longer transmit painful signals through the spinal cord to the brain. There is a high rate of success if the procedure is just done right.

If the methods above do not work then surgery might be necessary. For short term relief from pain, you may take pain medications like Advil and Tylenol but this should be taken under the supervision of your physician. This however can only relieve you from the symptoms and not the cause thus it is better if treatment addresses the underlying cause and you may be able to avoid pain medication and its side effects (John Kafel, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, NY).