Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While it can occur in any joint in the body, including the hips, knees, and hands, osteoarthritis in the neck, also known as cervical osteoarthritis, is a particular concern for many individuals. If you have been told that you have osteoarthritis in the neck read on to learn more about what osteoarthritis in the neck is, its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options. And just a spoiler alert….yes there are treatment options. And good ones too!
What is Osteoarthritis in the Neck?
Osteoarthritis in the neck is a progressive condition that can occur when the cartilage that cushions the joints in the neck wears down over time. As the cartilage continues to wear away, the bones in the neck can rub against each other, causing pain, inflammation, and limited mobility.
Causes of Osteoarthritis in the Neck
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in the neck, including:
- Age: As individuals grow older, their joints and bones naturally wear down, which increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the neck.
- Overuse: Repetitive motions, such as carrying heavy objects or staring at a computer screen for long periods, can put non-optimal stress on the neck and lead to the development of osteoarthritis in the long term..
- Trauma: Injuries to the neck, such as a car accident or sports injury, can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the neck.
- Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis in the neck.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in the Neck
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in the neck can include:
- Pain: Pain in the neck that may radiate down the arms and into the hands.
- Stiffness: Limited mobility and stiffness in the neck.
- Tingling and Numbness: Tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers.
- Weakness: Weakness in the arms and hands.
Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in the Neck
There are several options available for treating osteoarthritis in the neck, including:
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat osteoarthritis in the neck. A physical therapist can help to design an individualized exercise program that will improve neck strength, flexibility, and range of motion. These exercises can also help to reduce pain and improve overall functionality.
- Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Heat and Ice Therapy: Applying heat or ice to the neck can help to relieve pain and improve mobility.
- Corticosteroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Surgery: In severe cases of osteoarthritis in the neck, surgery may be necessary to relieve pain and improve mobility.
Osteoarthritis in the neck is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. By better understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can take steps to manage your condition and improve your quality of life.
At Concept Physiotherapy & Massage, we believe that physical therapy and exercise are among the most effective treatments for osteoarthritis in the neck, and there is research to support this claim. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy1 found that a physical therapy program designed to improve neck strength and flexibility significantly reduced pain and improved function in individuals with osteoarthritis in the neck.
Another study published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation2 demonstrated that exercise therapy was effective in reducing pain and disability in individuals with neck pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Our skilled physical therapists are experts in designing personalized exercise programs to help reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve overall function in individuals with this condition. Through regular sessions, we can help you build strength, increase flexibility, and enhance your range of motion, all while managing your symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Cleland JA, Mintken PE, Carpenter K, et al. Neck-strengthening exercise and physical therapy management of neck pain in a naval aviator. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2005 Nov;35(11):802-8. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2005.35.11.802. PMID: 16386037.
- Kjaer P, Kongsted A, Hartvigsen J, et al. National Clinical Guidelines for non-surgical treatment of patients with recent onset neck pain or cervical radiculopathy. Eur Spine J. 2017;26(9):2242-2257. doi: 10.1007/s00586-017-5121-8. PMID: 28762196.