The cervical arthritis or cervical osteoarthritis is degeneration of cartilage of the neck. This pathology affects the joints between every two vertebrae. It is considered that it can appear due to the sum of certain genetic and environmental factors. Still, in some cases there is a clear cause, such as previous trauma, infection, congenital malformation, or pinched nerve. To find out how to treat it and improve your quality of life, read on!
Symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis
Although there are different causes for developing cervical osteoarthritis, the symptoms are very clear. These are:
- Neck pain and stiffness.
- Intensification of pain when moving the neck.
- Temporary stiffness that improves with movement.
- Limitation of mobility.
This pain is mainly found in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the joints. The cartilage, having no nerves, does not feel discomfort. The disease can appear in both men and women of any age, but especially between 30 and 50 or more. As time passes, the risk increases.
However, cervical osteoarthritis should not be associated with all neck pain . This is because there are other frequent causes that can cause discomfort, such as postures at work, in housework or sleep.
In some occasions, the cervical osteoarthritis is asymptomatic and can be detected by radiographs or plain X-ray. Also through MRI or electromyography to measure the speed of nerve conduction.
Treatment to improve cervical pain
There are several alternatives to treat cervical pain : physical measures, drugs and surgery. We will detail them below.
- Sleep in a good position, that is, head and neck aligned with the body. The use of a small pillow under the neck and several cushions to elevate the thighs is recommended.
- Avoid keeping the neck flexed for a long time.
- Do not pick up heavy weights.
- Perform slow neck and shoulder movements and stretches.
- Physiotherapy to correct posture, align the spine and strengthen the muscles.
- Apply local heat using an electric blanket or a hot water bottle, for several times a day and for approximately 10 minutes.
- Cervical rest.
- Soft collar, if necessary.
Conventional analgesia (paracetamol) is the usual treatment. If not enough, anti-inflammatories could be taken during the acute phase of pain.
If the patient suffers from a neurological complication, such as nerve root compression, the rheumatologist will require other types of drugs. The most prescribed are pregabalin or gabapentin.
This last option is recommended when the rest of the treatments have not been able to control the pain and the patient feels very affected by the disease. Resorting to surgery is very unlikely, it is indicated in less than 1% of patients.