Treatment options for arthritis of the cervical spine

If you were recently diagnosed with arthritis of the cervical spine, there are likely several treatment options that you can consider for managing your neck pain, stiffness and inflammation. Spinal arthritis is a progressive, age-related condition that causes the protective cartilage in the spinal facet joints to slowly break down and wear away. As the condition advances, the bones in a degenerated joint may be left unprotected and begin to grind against each other, creating painful friction that requires treatment.

How to find relief

When you think about neck pain treatments, the first option to come to mind may be surgery. If that’s the case, you may be relieved to find out that many people are able to effectively manage their discomfort without the need for a surgical procedure. The best way to find the relief you need is to work one-on-one with a physician who can provide individualized advice and recommend the specific treatments that are best suited for your needs. It may turn out that you have several conservative options, some of which will involve nothing more than making a few simple adjustments to your daily routine.

Nonsurgical treatments for neck arthritis

After consulting with your physician, and perhaps doing some research on your own, you might decide to try one or more conservative treatment options for arthritis of the cervical spine, such as:

  • Limiting your neck movements when your symptoms flare. Sometimes, a brief rest is all that is needed to calm arthritic inflammation and alleviate the accompanying pain.
  • Adopting an active lifestyle. Incorporating more movement, such as walking, into your daily routine can boost your body’s production of endorphins, which serve as natural pain relievers.
  • Using cold/hot therapy as needed. Some people find that the application of an ice pack can effectively reduce painful inflammation, while others prefer using a heating pad or moist heat wrap to relax sore muscles.
  • Taking over-the-counter medications as needed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be particularly helpful for relieving the pain and inflammation associated with neck arthritis.

If you are interested in expanding your options, you might ask you physician about adding some complementary therapies, such as massage therapy and chiropractic manipulation, to your treatment program. Additionally, certain nutritional supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, can be helpful for treating joint pain and inflammation.

Surgical treatment

After several weeks or months, if you ultimately find that you are unable to manage your symptoms effectively with nonsurgical arthritis of the spine treatment, you might begin to think about surgery — but not necessarily a highly invasive open spine procedure. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine surgery, which is often the clinically appropriate first choice and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery for neck arthritis.^

To find out if you’re a candidate for a minimally invasive outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute, contact us to request more information.