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What Is Neck Arthritis? Signs You Have It and Remedies
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What Is Neck Arthritis? Signs You Have It and Remedies

Neck discomfort can come from many sources: Too much time hunched over a computer, repetitive motions, or even just sleeping funny.

However, if you’re noticing it occurring more as you age, you aren’t alone. As we age, the wear and tear of our daily activities can take a toll on our bodies, particularly on our necks. This wear and tear can lead to a condition commonly known as neck arthritis, which primarily affects the cervical spine — the part of our spine that gives our heads their grand stage.

Progression is typically gradual and can lead to significant changes in the cervical spine and spinal cord over time. The cervical spine is similar to a well-used path that, over time, becomes worn and less smooth. This can lead to a variety of symptoms that can impact our day-to-day lives.

The more we understand neck arthritis, the better we can manage it. Let’s explore the signs of neck arthritis and ways to manage it.

What Is Neck Arthritis?

Neck arthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the neck, is essentially the degeneration of the cervical spine, facet joints, and ligaments in the neck.

The cervical spine consists of small vertebrae stacked on top of each other, and between each one is a cushioning disc to absorb shock. With age, these discs can start to wear down, and the facet joints that connect the vertebrae can also experience degeneration. This can lead to the formation of bone spurs, which are extra bits of bone that grow as a response to the increased wear and tear.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Neck Arthritis?

Risk factors for neck arthritis can vary, but some common ones include:

  • Age
  • Neck injuries
  • Genetic factors
  • Certain occupations or activities that put extra strain on the neck

For example, jobs that involve repetitive neck movements or prolonged periods of sitting or standing can increase the risk. It’s important to take steps to manage them and potentially slow down the progression of the condition.

What Are Common Symptoms of Neck Arthritis?

Neck arthritis can manifest in different ways, with multiple symptoms that can vary from person to person. Let's talk about some of the most common signs to look out for.

Neck Discomfort

One of the most common symptoms of neck arthritis is neck discomfort. This can range from a dull, persistent ache to severe pain, particularly at the base of the skull.

The type and intensity of discomfort can vary, and it often worsens with certain activities or movements. It can be particularly bothersome during everyday activities, such as driving, working on a computer, or even just turning your head.

Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms, or sudden, involuntary muscle contractions, can also be a common symptom of neck arthritis. These spasms can cause a feeling of tightness or knots in your neck muscles.

They can be quite uncomfortable and can disrupt your daily activities. However, it's important to remember that muscle spasms are your body's way of protecting itself from further injury.

Reduced Range of Motion

Another noticeable symptom of neck arthritis is a reduced range of motion. You might find it harder to turn your head from side to side or nod up and down. This limitation can make simple tasks like backing out of a driveway or reaching for an object more difficult. It's a clear sign that your neck is not as flexible as it used to be.

Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve, is a condition that can result from neck arthritis. It happens when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated, and this can lead to pain radiating down the arm and cause numbness or weakness.

It's like a ripple effect — a problem in the neck creating issues elsewhere.

How Is Neck Arthritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing neck arthritis involves a combination of physical examination, medical history, and imaging tests. Your healthcare provider will start by asking about your symptoms and how they affect your daily life. They'll want to know when the symptoms started, what makes them better or worse, and if there's any pattern to them.

Your healthcare provider may perform a physical examination. They'll check your neck's range of motion, look for areas of tenderness, and assess muscle strength and reflexes. This hands-on assessment can provide valuable information about what's happening in your neck.

Imaging tests also play a role in diagnosing neck arthritis. An X-ray can reveal changes in the neck's structure, such as bone spurs or a decrease in the space between your spinal bones.

A CT scan provides a more detailed view and can help detect issues like spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal narrows. An MRI can provide even more detail, especially of soft tissues, and can help identify problems with the spinal cord or nerve roots. Electromyography (EMG) can be used to assess the health of muscles and the nerves controlling them.

You must consult a healthcare provider to receive a diagnosis and treat neck arthritis. They can help identify the signs and symptoms, assess the severity, and suggest suitable treatment options.

What Are the Different Types of Neck Arthritis?

There are different types of arthritis that can affect the neck, each with its own unique characteristics. Let's take a closer look at three of them: Rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. However, it can also affect the neck, causing discomfort and stiffness. This can lead to changes in the cervical spine and neck muscles over time.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, but can also impact the neck. It can cause inflammation and discomfort, and in severe cases, lead to a hunched-forward posture.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Some people with psoriasis, a condition that causes red patches with silvery scales on the skin, develop psoriatic arthritis. This type of arthritis can cause stiffness and discomfort in the neck and other joints.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis, which includes conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, differs from other types of arthritis. It's characterized by inflammation of the joints and other tissues, which can cause discomfort and stiffness.

How To Soothe Discomfort Associated With Neck Arthritis

Soothing discomfort associated with neck arthritis often involves a combination of strategies. Let's explore some of these.

Stretching

Regularly stretching your neck can go a long way in managing discomfort. Simple neck exercises can help strengthen neck muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance range of motion. Physical therapy can guide you through these exercises and ensure you're doing them correctly to maximize their benefits.

Consider Your Posture

Your posture can significantly influence your neck's health. Maintaining good posture, both when sitting and standing, can help ease discomfort associated with neck arthritis. When sitting, try to keep your shoulders back and relaxed, ensure your feet are flat on the floor, keep your legs at a ninety-degree angle, and avoid tilting your head down or upwards for prolonged periods.

If working at a computer, you want to adjust your seat so you're at eye level with the screen, and remember to take stretching breaks often!

Hot or Cold Therapy

Hot or cold therapy can be beneficial in soothing the joints and easing discomfort. A warm shower or a heating pad can help relax the muscles by promoting blood flow and relaxing the muscles. The increased blood circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal damaged tissue. The heat also soothes discomfort and can increase flexibility.

On the other hand, cold therapy slows down blood flow and may have a numbing effect on the nerves, further helping to alleviate discomfort. It's particularly beneficial after a day of intense activity when the neck may feel tender.

Medication

Depending on how discomfort is affecting your daily activities and quality of life, a healthcare provider may recommend medication. Over-the-counter pain medication, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can be used to manage discomfort and inflammation.

Corticosteroids, either taken orally or injected directly into the affected area, can also be used to reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants might be considered if muscle spasms are a significant issue.

Radiofrequency Treatments

If traditional management options don't provide adequate relief, radiofrequency treatments may be considered. This treatment uses heat generated by radio waves to target specific nerves and interrupt the pain signals they send. It's a minimally invasive procedure that can offer lasting relief for some individuals.

How To Use CBD for General Neck Discomfort

CBD can play a role in soothing feelings of neck discomfort, but it’s important to consult your healthcare provider first to rule out serious causes.

CBD works with your body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps maintain balance in your body. Topical CBD can offer localized, targeted support where it's needed most — right at the source of discomfort. Whether it's soothing stiff joints or easing feelings of soreness in the muscles, CBD can be a valuable addition to your toolkit.

When it comes to using CBD for neck discomfort, consistency and timing are key. Consider applying CBD at the first sign of discomfort and then continue to use it regularly for ongoing support.

CBD balms, like those offered by Muscle MX, can be particularly beneficial. Our Activate CBD Balm, for instance, can help warm up muscles before activity, while our Recovery CBD Balm, with its cooling menthol, can help soothe joints and muscles when discomfort starts to creep in.

Remember, when choosing a CBD product, quality matters. Look for products that are third-party tested to ensure you're getting what's on the label. At Muscle MX, we pride ourselves on using clean, natural ingredients in all its products, providing you with the quality you can trust.

Summing It Up

Soothing neck discomfort involves a combination of strategies. It's about finding what works best for you and adapting as needed. Whether it's stretching, improving your posture, trying different treatments, or incorporating CBD into your routine, remember that you have options. With the right approach, you can significantly improve your quality of life.

At Muscle MX, we're committed to supporting your wellness journey. We invite you to explore our full range of wellness CBD products, crafted with clean, natural ingredients and third-party tested for quality. With Muscle MX, you can trust you're getting products designed to support your comfort and well-being.

Sources:

Cervical Spondylosis: What It Is, Symptoms & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

5 Back and Neck Stretches to Do Every Day | HSS

Guide to Good Posture | MedlinePlus

Heat Therapy Helps Relax Stiff Joints | Arthritis Foundation

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