Cervical spine arthritis

The cervical spine is located between the base of the skull and the shoulders. There are seven cervical vertebra denoted as C1 (nearest the skull) to C7 (nearest the collar bone). Cervical spine arthritis is an inflammation of one or more of the joints of the cervical spine; these joints are responsible for connecting adjacent vertebra.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and this type of arthritis often occurs naturally as part of the aging process. Factors influencing the rate of cervical spinal osteoarthritis development include genetic predisposition, autoimmune diseases and overuse of or injury to a cervical vertebra.

Cervical spine arthritis, as mentioned previously, usually presents itself as a form of osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage within a joint. When cartilage breaks down in the spine, the vertebral body’s facet joints can rub together, resulting in pain and inflammation. Protective discs between the vertebrae also break down. In an effort to heal itself, the body grows extra bone around the vertebrae; these growths are called bone spurs. Bone spurs can protrude into surrounding nerves and cause increased discomfort.

Symptoms of cervical spine arthritis can range from mild to severe, and could become chronic. These symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness with head motion
  • A crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone
  • Limited range of motion

Following correct diagnosis, medical experts usually agree that initial treatment should be attempted through conservative measures. Therapy can include warm compresses, cold compresses, analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications, exercises, massage, etc. Occasionally, these conservative treatments are not successful in controlling symptoms, particularly when bone spur growth is extensive.

Next steps

If you have been diagnosed with cervical spine osteoarthritis or cervical rheumatoid arthritis and undergo conservative treatment without success, your physician may suggest surgical treatment. There are now minimally invasive outpatient procedures available that avoid many of the undesirable aspects of traditional open spine surgery, such as large incisions and long recovery periods. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression, and in the most severe cases, stabilization procedures, to treat symptoms of arthritis of the spine as well as other degenerative spine conditions. Contact us today to discover how we can help you find relief from neck and back pain.