Neck arthritis is also known as cervical spondylosis disorder, the abnormal wearing of the bones and cartilage found in the neck. It is usually characterized by the chronic degeneration or wearing away of the cervical portion of the spine, as well as the cervical disks that cushion the vertebrae of the neck and joints that sit between the cervical spine’s bones. It is also possible to get abnormal spurs and growths between the vertebrae’s bones.
Such changes might over a period of time begin to compress or press down on a single or multiple nerve roots. More advanced versions involve the spinal cord, affecting the legs and the arms. Ageing is the main risk factor and as such by age sixty, many men and women will show early if not progressive signs of the disorder when x-rays are taken. Other important factors that put you at a higher risk of getting this disease include spinal surgeries, severe cases of arthritis and neck injuries that may or may not have happened only a few years earlier.
The symptoms for neck arthritis include:
Back of the head headaches
Weakness in the legs and/or arms
Abnormal feelings or loss of feeling in the legs, arms and shoulders
Worsening neck stiffness
Neck pains radiating into the shoulders and arms
Bowel and bladder control loss
However, not everyone will get every symptom and if you do then you may only get mild symptoms to start, or alternatively they may be substantially worse right from the start.
Quite often doctors will examine you physically by looking at your ability to bend your neck towards your shoulders and your ability to rotate your head from side to side. Serious signs include damage to your spinal cord or nerve roots where you are showing weakness or even sensation loss. General tests used include CT scans, x-rays, an EMG, x-rays of the neck and spine and spinal MRIs.
Treatments can include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, physical therapies, cortisone type injections into areas around your spine and varied pain medicines. However, it is important to note that taking care of yourself according to your doctor’s instruction can aid in avoiding back pain and the potential for surgery. However, if the pain is so severe that these methods do not work or you lose feeling or movement, your doctor will usually opt for surgery which involves relieving any pressure on your spinal cord or nerves. Potential complications can include permanent disabilities, progressive feeling or muscle function loss, urinary and/or fecal incontinence and chronic levels of neck pain. Treatments are quite diverse for neck arthritis and may include over the counter medications, therapies and having to wear a cervical collar. Unfortunately, this type of arthritis is totally unpreventable, so ensuring that you use proper techniques and equipment when exercising or using your neck is essential to reduce your overall risk.