Spinal arthritis often forms in the joints of the cervical spine (neck). Because the neck is continually moving and rotating, the facet joints and vertebrae of the cervical spine undergo constant wear and tear, which can lead to the development of arthritis in the spine (osteoarthritis).
The neck is responsible for supporting the weight of the head and stabilizing the head during movements. Think about every movement your head makes — probably over a hundred of small movements a day. Each movement occurs because the facet joints of the cervical spine act as hinges for the vertebrae, allowing the vertebrae to move and pivot.
Over time, the facet joints may begin to slowly wear down with the repetitive motions of the head. As this happens, arthritis can form in the joints and cause swelling, deterioration and/or bone spurs. Bone spurs are growths that extend from the joints and the vertebrae into the spinal canal, reducing the free space in the spinal canal where the nerve roots can send signals between the brain and the spine. When the spinal canal narrows (spinal stenosis), a nerve root can become squeezed and cause mild to severe symptoms of pain and discomfort.
In addition to neck pain and discomfort, patients who suffer from neck arthritis symptoms might also experience:
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in the shoulders and arms
- Loss of sensation in the arms
- Weakness in the arms
- Headaches that seem to originate in the back of the skull
- Loss of balance
- Joint stiffness or stiffness moving the head or neck
Conservative, nonsurgical treatments for arthritis in the neck
Many times, mild symptoms of cervical spine arthritis can be managed through conservative, or nonsurgical, neck arthritis treatments. Over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine can also be used in combination with physical therapy or other conservative treatments like chiropractic therapy or an exercise regimen to strengthen the neck muscles.
Sometimes, nonsurgical treatments do not alleviate chronic neck pain. Your physician may suggest spinal decompression surgery. This procedure is designed to relieve symptoms of neck arthritis by removing pressure on the impacted nerve root in the spinal canal, usually caused by a bone spur or joint inflammation.
At USA Spine Care, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery that helps relieve pressure on the nerve roots in the spinal canal by removing a portion of a protruding bone spur. In some cases, we may reduce the inflammation and swelling in the facet joints through our precise laser technology. Our minimally invasive treatments are performed through a small, 1-inch incision and this minimally invasive approach helps our patients get back to their lives faster.
Come see why more people turn to USA Spine Care each month than to any other spine surgery center. To learn more about arthritis of the neck and the treatments available to you, please contact USA Spine Care today.