By Jackie Manning, ARNP, Strive! Health and Rehabilitation
Cervical osteoarthritis can be a real pain in the neck! Please excuse the corny pun. Had to go there!
Also known as cervical spondylosis, this condition flares up when the neck bones, joints, and discs undergo changes—typically consisting of wear-and-tear due to aging and potentially, prolonged overuse.
Thankfully, various treatment options can help! The treatment will depend on the severity of symptoms and how often these symptoms disrupt your daily life. Nonsurgical treatment options are the most optimal to manage the condition.
NONSURGICAL TREATMENT OPTIONS
For mild osteoarthritis symptoms, common treatments will include one or more of the following:
Rest when symptoms flare. Limiting neck movements for a short time, like an afternoon or a day, is usually enough to allow the inflammation to go back down and the pain to dissolve.
Cold and/or heat therapy. Many patients report that a cold pack, especially after an activity that causes pain, is helpful in minimizing the inflammation. While, other patients prefer heat, like a heating pad or heat wrap. Moist heat, such as a moist heat wrap for the neck or a warm bath or shower, can also do the trick.
Over-the-counter medications. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Celebrex, are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, that have been found helpful in relieving the pain from arthritis related inflammation. Also, don’t underestimate the power of Tylenol, which can bring about quick relief!
Active lifestyle. Rest is sometimes necessary, especially during painful flare-ups, but moderate exercise works wonders for the neck joints. Incorporating more movement into your daily routine can reduce long-term pain from cervical osteoarthritis. If this is new, you may want to start with a walking regimen—an excellent way to increase daily activity and at the same time, naturally boost feel-good endorphins.
A physical therapist or other medical professional can design a program of exercise and stretching that specifically targets your specific needs in relation to your neck. These exercises will strengthen the neck muscles, increasing strength and flexibility and decreasing neck muscle spasms and pain.