Arthritis Of The Neck

Arthritis Of The Neck

As we grow older, many changes happen to our bodies. Like the rest of the body, bones of the neck change. You may be thinking that arthritis only affects the knee joint, ankles, or your back. Unfortunately, arthritis can affect any joints and bones in your body, including those of the neck.

In this article, we’re talking about the arthritis of the neck. If you are complaining of neck pain or stiffness, arthritis may be the problem. Keep reading to know!

  • How does arthritis happen in the neck?

As we age, the bones of the neck start to degenerate. Your neck bones are part of the spinal vertebrae. Getting older, degenerative changes happen to them, and the disks between the vertebrae dry out and lose their watery content. By the time, the movement and pressure applied on the neck joints develop arthritis.

As the cartilaginous layer between the vertebrae wears out, the spines of the bones start to bulge, and the body responds by forming new bones. This leads to the deformity of the neck bones.

This process is called osteoarthritis of the neck or cervical spondylosis.

  • Forms of arthritis:

Neck arthritis can happen in multiple forms, we are going to mention the most known types of arthritis:

  1. Osteoarthritis of the neck (spinal spondylosis).
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis: it’s a type of inflammatory arthritis that can affect any joint in the body. In this type, the immune system turns on itself, so it’s considered an autoimmune disorder.
  3. 3.Spondyloarthritis: it’s also a type of inflammatory arthritis that can affect the joints and the ligaments attached to the bones. This type alone has different clinical presentations such as psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and reactive arthritis. 
  • Risk factors:

Generally, the main cause of arthritis is unknown. Arthritis of the neck usually happens as a result of the aging process. Genetic factors and autoimmune triggers may play a role.

The following risk factors can also cause arthritis:

  • Old age.
  • Obesity.
  • Smoking.
  • Previous injury or trauma.
  • Occupation.
  • Infection.
  • Some medical conditions: diabetes, gout, psoriasis, and tuberculosis.
  • Symptoms:

Most of the cases with neck arthritis are asymptomatic. However, the main symptoms are neck pain and stiffness, which vary in severity from one patient to another.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Headache.
  • Spasms in the muscles of the neck and the shoulders.
  • Trouble walking, fatigue, and loss of balance.
  • Arthritis may lead to spinal cord compression which results in weakness and numbness.
  • How is cervical arthritis diagnosed?

Usually, the diagnosis depends on your medical history and physical examination.

Your doctor may ask for some medical investigations such as:

  • X-ray: to detect the degenerative changes, deformity, or presence of fractures.
  • CT scan & MRI: to have a better image for the spinal cord, spinal canal, muscles, cartilages, and nerves.
  • blood tests to search for rheumatoid factors.
  • Joint aspiration.
  • What is the treatment of neck arthritis?
  1. Non-surgical treatment:

Most of the cases don’t need surgical treatment. This type of treatment includes:

  • Physiotherapy:

Physiotherapy is the main-line treatment of neck arthritis. A few simple exercises can relieve your neck pain and stiffness.

  • Rest.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs):

They are the first-line medications for treating neck pain.

  • Cold and hot fomentations.
  • Muscle relaxants.
  • Soft cervical collars: for limitation of your neck motion.
  1. Surgical treatment:

It isn’t recommended for treating neck arthritis. However, you may need surgical intervention in case of resistant severe symptoms and arthritis progression.

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