The older you get, the more likely you are to have a pain in the neck, and that pain is more likely to be caused by arthritis. In fact, after age 60, more than 85% of seniors experience this common condition. Also called cervical spondylosis, stiffness and pain are common symptoms. Many people have the condition without noticeable discomfort.
Causes of Cervical Spondylosis
As people grow older, degenerative processes change the spine. These changes are to be expected as they are part of the aging process. About half of the population of middle-aged and senior citizens have worn disks in their spine that do not show any signs of discomfort.
Like the other disks in the spine, those between the seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of the skull and form the neck will lose their water content and height. As the disks dry out, they also weaken. The spaces where the disks lose height cause increased pressure on the facet joints.
The joints start to degenerate and develop arthritis. This is the same process that occurs in the hip and knee joints, except it happens in the spine. The articular cartilage, the smooth rubbery covering, begins to wear away and if not treated, will end up with bone rubbing on bone.
The body may produce new bone to replace the lost cartilage. Unfortunately, the bone overgrowth in the facet joints can reduce the space where the spinal cord and nerves pass through. This overgrowth of bone is also called bone spurs.
While age is a big factor in the development of arthritis in the neck, people who have had previous trauma or injury to the neck may also be at risk. Jobs that require a lot of repetitive neck motion and overhead work can cause arthritis to develop.
Once you have had your neck pain evaluated by a qualified professional, an appropriate course of treatment will be advised. Many doctors prefer to begin with conservative treatment, like physical therapy, to evaluate the response of the condition.
Your doctor may also recommend medications to relieve pain and inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, relieve pain and swelling, although acetaminophen may be used for mild pain. Muscle relaxants are prescribed for those suffering with painful muscle spasms.
Ice, heat and massage are often used to help treat symptoms. Sometimes short-term pain is relieved through steroid injections. Your doctor will advise you if surgery is an option, if none of the other non-invasive methods of treatment are successful.
Posted on behalf of Sovereign Rehabilitation
5555 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd, Suite 225
Atlanta, GA 30342
Phone: (404) 835-3340