Arthritis is nothing but the inflammation of the joints. Sad to reveal, this is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
As such there are many types of joints present in the human body like the ball and socket joint, pivot joint, hinge joint, synovial joint, movable and immovable joints, etc.
Arthritis can occur in any joint of the body. The most frequently targeted joint for arthritis problem is the knee joint.
Next to the knee joint, the high incidence area of arthritis is the spinal/cervical joint that is the neck and back region.
Cervical arthritis or neck arthritis is most common among people who use their neck continuously for a longer period of time without giving proper rest and relaxation to joint muscles and tissues.
Generally there are two types of arthritis which occur in the cervical region. These are: Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid arthritis. In both these arthritis conditions severe chronic pain is experienced in the neck region.
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Osteoarthritis Vs Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two different conditions which are sometimes referred or used in place of another. The basic difference between the two however lies in the nature of disease.
Osteoarthritis of bones is a degenerative condition which generally occurs due to increased wear and tear of joints. It is characterized by increased wearing out of articulating cartilages, leading to stiffness and pain in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a slow deterioration of bones which occurs as person grows older. This is usually an auto immune disorder which develops inflammatory joint symptoms all over the body. As it is an age related disorder, it is rarely noticed at young age.
Patient suffering from these both conditions usually complain of pain and stiffness in the cervical region.
The major investigative procedures which concludes the cause for the arthritic neck pain are cervical X-ray, CSF analysis, bone density test, MRI of cervical vertebrae, etc.
The differential diagnosis should be made along with accurate tests and investigations for confirming the real cause and treatment options.
What Causes Arthritis In The Neck?
Arthritis is one of the major pathological conditions which hurts the majority of the world’s population, particularly the age groups above 50 years. Major causes for the occurrence of neck arthritis are:
Improper posture: People who maintains wrong posture for long time (mainly during the office works, sleeping time, etc.) are prone to get neck arthritis at the earliest.
Age: The age of the human is one another causative factor to suffer from neck arthritis problem. Especially the person whose lifestyle is sedentary or filled with strenuous labor activities will get neck arthritis very soon in their life.
Because of long years of usage and various other additional factors, the old age people use to get osteophyte into the bones (mainly at the vertebrae) which in turn results in the problem of neck arthritis.
Trauma or Accidental Injury: In case of fall injury, hit injury or heavy accidental injury over the cervical spine it causes bony lesion which finally ends with arthritis of the neck or cervical joint.
Calcium Malfunction: People who suffer from metabolic dysfunction also may suffer from arthritis soon in their life. Additionally when there is less intake of calcium and less production of Vitamin-D in the body then it may lead to bone weakness which also causes arthritis of the neck.
This mainly happens with the people who are taking less calcium in their diet and use their cervical spine enormously, like computer professionals.
Pregnancy: During pregnancy, body experiences drastic changes among which hormonal changes are the major one. Due to these hormonal imbalance and metabolic alterations pregnant women are at higher risk to acquire neck arthritis.
Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Neck
Nearly everyone who has arthritis, feel the pain and stiffness early in the morning (particularly when they are waking up from the bed after sleep).
As the activity start gradually, the pain and stiffness will subside considerably. Few of the major symptoms seen in case of arthritis of the neck area are listed below:
- neck pain and stiffness
- Radiating pain to the shoulder blades
- Headache mainly at the back of the neck
- Irritability mainly when moving the neck
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or sometimes in the whole hand
- Spasmodic pain in the cervical region and muscle spasms on and off in the neck area
- Sleep disturbances due to stiffness and intolerable pain in the neck region, etc.
Few people sometimes also experiences cracking sound when moving the neck suddenly. This makes the individuals to get stressed thinking that their neck bones are broken inside.
Also Check: Best Pillow For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Best Neck Arthritis Treatment Options
As arthritis is basically a age related disease, it is hard to cure it completely. However leading a healthy lifestyle along with some of the best arthritis treatment options, you can easily help in relieving the pain caused.
Brace/Collar: First and foremost treatment advice which most of the doctors recommend to their arthritis patients is to wear the neck brace or cervical collar. The main objective of wearing the cervical collar is to prevent sudden rapid movements of the neck which in turn reduces the progression of pain in the neck region.
Physiotherapy: The next treatment protocol which most of the doctor’s advice is getting physical therapy treatment. Physiotherapy for arthritis can help the arthritic neck patient most if they are suffering from chronic conditions.
Cold: Another effective therapy which is suggested in case of acute neck pain due to arthritis is cryotherapy or ice therapy. Just applying the ice over the cervical region or doing rolling massage with the help of ice cubes over the back of the neck helps to reduce the neck pain readily.
Heat: It is proven fact that heat helps to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the joints and helps in enhancing the blood circulation. People with arthritis in the neck and back region are therefore recommended to get it relieved with hot packs or warm towels.
These when applied to the painful areas (like the joints and back) relieves chronic stiffness and pain. Similar to this water therapy in a warm or heated pool also can do wonders for the arthritis patients and can be tried out regularly.
Medication: When coming to arthritis neck pain medication, most of the doctors use to prescribe NSAID’s (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), because these drugs act immediately and reduce the pain instantly. These are highly needed for the patients with severe and highly intolerable chronic pain in their neck.
However it is good to know that most of these medications can cause side effects if taken for long. So it is not the best treatment option in case if you want to get the long term permanent treatment.
It has been seen that leading a healthy and stress free life is the only solution which can help you out in long run. If you have been diagnosed with neck arthritis, you should care for doing regular exercises (or at-least regular walk for – an hour a day) and include healthy diet in your routine for leading a healthy and problem free life.
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