Physicians or physical therapists will often suggest a regimen of neck arthritis exercises as part of a course of conservative treatment for patients who suffer from neck, or cervical, osteoarthritis. These exercises are designed to improve flexibility within the neck and also to increase the strength of neck muscles. The goal of exercise isn’t to cure the arthritis, but rather to help limit pain and maintain flexibility in the neck.
If you have been diagnosed with neck arthritis, there are a few things to remember before beginning a new exercise program. First, consult a physician to ensure that you are healthy enough to perform the physical activity required and to also ensure that the exercises you plan to do will not cause further damage. Second, when you begin an exercise regimen, start slowly and work gradually toward more demanding activity. Next, remember to breathe as you exercise. Holding your breath during exercise deprives the muscles of the oxygen that they need to sustain physical activity. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, never push your muscles to the point of pain. Listen to your body when it tells you it has had enough.
Some simple neck arthritis exercises you might learn from your physical therapist include:
- Cervical extension – turning the face toward the ceiling
- Cervical flexion – lowering the chin to the chest
- Cervical rotation – turning the face to either side
- Lateral flexion – lowering the ear toward the shoulder on either side
- Isometric exercises – using the hands for resistance to build strength as you move the head forward, backward or sideways
When your arthritis symptoms are mild, exercising can be an easy and effective neck arthritis treatment. Sometimes, however, a regimen of neck arthritis exercises combined with other conservative treatments is not enough to limit symptoms satisfactorily. When the chronic pain of neck arthritis symptoms persists, or your range of motion remains severely restricted after months of conservative treatment, a physician may recommend surgery as an option.
The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute can help you find relief from neck pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures are more effective alternatives to traditional open neck surgery.