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Cervical Osteoarthritis (Neck Arthritis)

Cervical arthritis most often affects you as you age. But a previous or recent neck injury may, in fact, lead to the debilitating neck pain that comes with cervical osteoarthritis. Facet joints in the neck are vulnerable when you play sports or engage in activities that put your neck in danger. For the most effective neck arthritis treatment, you first need a correct diagnose. Get that at one of the many offices of New York Pain Care in NYC and northern New Jersey. Early treatment for arthritis in the neck can save you from years of pain.

What Is Cervical Osteoarthritis?

Anatomy of Cervical Osteoarthritis
Anatomy of Cervical Osteoarthritis

Cervical osteoarthritis, also known as neck arthritis, is a major cause of incapacitating neck pain. Cervical osteoarthritis refers to the degeneration of bones and cartilage in the facet joints of your neck. The structural changes often occur because of regular wear and lead to pain, inflammation and a reduced range of motion. This condition mostly affects people over 50 years, but no matter when you get it, the pain gets worse with age.

The facet joints in your cervical spine enable the smooth movement of your spine, reducing friction. These joints allow forward and back movements of your neck. With degeneration of the bones and connective tissues in the joint, it becomes hard to move this critical spinal section. Your neck is one of the most flexible parts of your body, along with your shoulders.

An early diagnosis for neck arthritis improves the outcome of your treatment for arthritis in the neck. Dr. Amr Hosny and the expert pain management doctors who treat neck pain and so much more at New York Pain Care are pain specialists. They rely on the latest medical technology for a correct diagnosis and effective treatment of your cervical spine pain.

Why Should I Worry about Cervical Osteoarthritis?

An injury to any part of your cervical spine affects your quality of life because of the pain and limited range of mobility it causes. If you notice persistent neck pain, an early diagnosis can make all the difference. Common symptoms that make arthritis in the neck a serious condition include:

  • Chronic neck pain
  • Involuntary muscle spasms in your neck
  • Contractions of your neck muscles
  • Numbness and weakness in your arms, as if you have pinched nerves
  • Pain accompanied by popping or grinding sounds when you move your neck
  • Neck stiffness
  • Problems turning your head
  • Pain radiating to your arms
  • A loss of balance
  • Tenderness if you press your neck
  • Headaches
  • Severe pain in the morning that improves with time
  • The development of cervical myelopathy, cervical spinal stenosis or cervical radiculopathy, due to nerve compression

These symptoms reduce your capacity to lead a normal life and require immediate treatment. Dr. Hosny and the team in New York City and Paramus, Riverdale, Englewood Cliffs, Cranford and East Brunswick, New Jersey use advanced techniques for diagnosis. Then they can deliver the most appropriate neck arthritis treatment.

What Causes Cervical Osteoarthritis?

When the cartilage in your cervical facet joints degenerates, you experience pain and problems whenever you try to move your neck. Some causes of this joint damage include:

  • Advanced age. With age, the parts of your cervical spine wear down, become thinner and lose their elasticity.
  • Bone spurs. These are abnormal bone growths that develop on your vertebrae with the degeneration of bone tissue.
  • Cervical disc herniation. This medical condition causes pressure on the surrounding nerves and tissues.
  • A neck injury. Your neck is vulnerable to an injury while playing sports or from an accident.

Aging is a major factor in the development of cervical osteoarthritis, as the connective tissues in the facet joints weaken. A previous injury to your neck may contribute to this neck condition. Some extreme sports and occupations that put stress on the neck lead to damage of the cartilage in your neck joints.

How Is Cervical Osteoarthritis Treated?

Your doctor starts to determine your diagnosis with a review of your medical history, a physical exam, blood tests and imaging tests, such as an x-ray, CT scan or MRI. The findings from this evaluation form the basis of effective arthritis in the neck treatment. Your treatment is tailored on the severity of the damage, your age and your overall medical condition. Interventional treatment options for arthritis in the neck include:

  • Physical therapy. Non-surgical methods are the first treatment. Physical therapy relieves pain and strengthens affected tissues. Your doctor may recommend gentle stretches in combination with spinal traction, posture therapy and other exercises to relax your neck muscles.
  • Medications. Pain medication in moderation relieves mild neck pain, but your doctor can also prescribe anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers for neck pain relief.
  • A cervical collar. Extended joint damage leads to chronic neck pain. Your doctor may recommend a soft cervical collar or braces to reduce movement, relax muscles and promote healing.
  • Ice and heat therapy. Placing ice packs on the affected area of your neck reduces swelling and helps with pain. Heat treatment also relieves pain and muscle tension while improving flexibility.
  • Cervical injections. Your doctor can recommend steroid-based injections for your neck pain. The medication includes anesthetics for pain relief and a steroid to reduce inflammation. Facet joint injections target the affected joint and reduce pain and swelling and allow easier joint movements.
  • Surgical treatments. If your cervical osteoarthritis is due to extensive damage to tissues or if it affects surrounding nerves, your doctor may recommend surgery for more permanent pain relief. Surgery is always the last resort when nothing else worked.

Living with incapacitating pain affects your daily life. Contact Dr. Hosny and his team at New York Pain Care for effective diagnosis and treatment.

Page Updated on Dec 29, 2021 by Dr. Hosny (Interventional Spine Specialist) of New York Pain Care
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