Cervical spinal arthritis

Cervical spinal arthritis, which is arthritis that affects the facet joints of the neck, is a common form of spinal arthritis that can cause inflammation and pain.

Frequently, the cervical region of the spine experiences osteoarthritis, which can also be referred to as degenerative spinal arthritis or “wear-and-tear” spinal arthritis. Arthritis can affect virtually any joint in the body, including the facet joints located in the spine. From the cervical spine (neck) to the thoracic spine (middle back) to the lumbar spine (lower back), each facet joint in the spine allows the neck and back to move forward, backward and side-to-side. Like other joints, facet joints are covered in cartilage to provide protection and cushioning. With age, however, the cartilage on a healthy facet joint begins to degrade and become brittle. As cartilage wears away, the joints encounter painful friction each time they move. This series of events is known as osteoarthritis.

Cervical spinal arthritis can be a debilitating condition. To receive the proper diagnosis and treatment for your pain, try to describe your symptoms of spinal arthritis honestly and accurately to your physician. Before your visit, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do I feel my pain? Is it in my neck and upper back (cervical region), or do I feel it in my lower back (lumbar region)? Does the pain seem to radiate from my neck to my shoulders, or from my tailbone through my legs?
  • What is the nature of my pain? Do I experience numbness and tingling? Throbbing? Burning? Do I ever have complete loss of feeling?
  • Are any movements limited? Do I experience pain when I move my head from side to side? Front to back? Do I feel pain when I shrug my shoulders? When I lift something heavy? Do I have trouble getting out of bed?
  • What treatments have proven effective? Do pain medications help? Is rest the only thing that relieves my pain? Does localized massage help to relieve symptoms?

While scientists have not determined its exact cause, cervical spinal arthritis can be triggered by several situations, the most common of which is aging. As we age, both our joint cartilage and our spinal discs begin to degenerate, and we feel this degeneration in the parts of our bodies that move the most — our joints. In addition to aging, other causes of spinal arthritis can include obesity, overuse of the joint, hereditary factors and a weakened immune system.

If you have been diagnosed with cervical spinal arthritis, and you want to consider surgery as a treatment option, be sure to get all the facts before you make a decision; you may not have to experience a long, difficult recovery from a highly invasive open neck and back surgery. Laser Spine Institute is at the forefront of minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that have already helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, and treat cases of cervical spinal arthritis and other degenerative spine conditions. Contact us today for a review of your MRI report or CT scan to determine if you are a candidate for one of our innovative procedures.