Neck Arthritis

UNDERSTANDING NECK ARTHRITIS

Just like other types of arthritis neck arthritis is caused by different conditions among which are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.  The most common form is still osteoarthritis also known as cervical arthritis which often appears simply as neck pain.  If left untreated it worsens presenting more pain and difficulty in movement.

Neck arthritis can be described as a condition where the cartilage in the joint wears out due to ageing, trauma or both. The neck also known as the cervical region consists of 7 vertebrae structures, the C-Spine, that run from the skull and is the most flexible and least stable part of the vertebral column. Since it moves a lot, age and injury can have toll on its flexibility. The cushion between the vertebrae flattens with time hence the minimized freedom of movement around that region.  A study of the population has shown than 50 percent suffer from one form of neck pain that may or may not be diagnosed as arthritis.

The most common symptoms of neck arthritis are pain and stiffness of the neck. Some feel more pain when standing due to gravity while sleeping may also aggravate the symptoms as the neck muscles relax denying the spine support hence increased pressure on the small nerves that are already irritated and compressed. The upper back head, chest wall and arms may also experience pain due to the compressed nerve cells radiating pain in what is called “referred pain”

Neurological signs may be experienced among which are weakness, tingling, and electric pains down the forearm and hand, these may indicate of spinal cord damage and would require immediate medical attention.  Headache towards the back of the head may also be felt while in advanced stages, the patient may feel dizziness due to a decrease in blood supply to the brain.

X-ray, CT scan, EMG, MRI and fluorscopic can be used to diagnose this type of arthritis so as to guide the doctors in making the right prescription and treatment program according to the extent of the damage.

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