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Your Neck Pain May Actually Be Arthritis: Understanding Cervical Spondylosis

Osteoarthritis affects more than 32 million Americans. Also called wear-and-tear arthritis, it’s joint pain and stiffness caused by cartilage breakdown inside your joints over the years. Osteoarthritis commonly develops in the hands, hips, and knees, but it can appear in any joint — including the joints of your neck.

The seven vertebrae at the top of your spine make up your neck. These cervical vertebrae and the cushioning discs between them help your neck rotate as you move your head. When osteoarthritis affects the cervical spine, it’s called cervical spondylosis.

At Manhattan Orthopedics, our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating neck pain. If you’re over the age of 60 and you’re bothered by neck pain and stiffness, you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 85% of seniors have cervical spondylosis. The good news is that there are plenty of conservative treatments that can provide significant pain relief without the need for spine surgery.

Recognizing the signs of neck arthritis

Neck arthritis develops in the same way as arthritis in other joints. The cartilage in the cervical discs that cushion your vertebrae begin deteriorating with age. Vertebrae begin grinding against each other or pressing on nerves within your spinal column.

You could have cervical spondylosis if you regularly experience:

Pain is the most common symptom of neck arthritis, but stiffness can be severe. In some cases, neck stiffness can keep you from fully turning your head, which can interfere with your ability to drive safely.

Not everyone with cervical spondylosis has noticeable symptoms. If you do experience symptoms, they may be worse in the early morning and at night. Some people find that symptoms improve with rest.

Neck pain caused by cervical spondylosis is often chronic, but it’s rarely so severe that it stops you from carrying out your normal daily activities. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a life of pain and discomfort.

Treating cervical spondylosis pain

Our team at Manhattan Orthopedics takes a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating cervical spondylosis. We generally diagnose the condition following a review of your medical history and a physical exam. We may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, to confirm your diagnosis.

Cervical spondylosis symptoms are often well-managed with conservative treatments. We may recommend rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other non-narcotic drugs to reduce inflammation and pain.

Physical therapy can also improve neck pain and other symptoms of cervical spondylosis. Our team recommends neck exercises and other therapies to build strength and improve mobility in your neck. Local anesthetic injections or corticosteroid shots may also be a treatment option.

Don’t ignore your neck pain. Find out if it could be the result of neck arthritis and get a treatment plan that’s right for you by scheduling your first appointment at Manhattan Orthopedics today.

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