That achy stiffness you’re 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, we’d like to offer you information on neck arthritis — what it is, how to know you’re at risk, signs to look for, and available treatments.
What is neck arthritis?
When you consider the fact your neck is made up of 7 small vertebrae, and yet it holds your 8-to-10-pound head up every day, is it any wonder that many people end up with arthritis and pain?
Also known as cervical spondylosis, arthritis of the neck ultimately affects almost everyone. In fact, degeneration becomes visible on an X-ray in about 90% of people by 60 years of age. It results from wear-and-tear that causes changes to the spine.
Spinal disks can begin to bulge, as well as dry out and weaken, which in turn may cause the disk spaces to collapse. You may feel increased pressure in your joints as they degenerate and the protective smooth cartilage wears away. In cases where the cartilage is totally gone, bone may rub on bone and cause bone spurs to develop.
Risk factors and symptoms
Getting older is the most common risk factor for neck arthritis. Others include genetics, an occupation that requires repetitive neck movement or reaching overhead, smoking, having depression or anxiety, and experiencing a previous neck injury.
While cervical spondylosis is very common in middle age and beyond, most people do not experience any symptoms. Those who do have issues often feel pain and stiffness along with headaches and/or a grinding or popping sensation when turning the neck. Other problems may include numbness or weakness in the fingers, hands, and arms, loss of balance or weakness in the legs or hands, and/or neck and shoulder muscle spasms.
Treatment can include physical therapy, medications, ice, heat, and massage. A soft cervical collar may be recommended for a short period of time to help rest the neck muscles. Some people may receive steroid-based injections, either with or without radiofrequency ablation. Surgery may be recommended as a last resort if nonsurgical treatments have been unsuccessful and you're a good candidate.
If you've been suffering from neck pain, book an appointment with us today to get a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.