How does spinal arthritis cause neck pain?

Arthritis in the neck is a potentially painful condition that occurs when cartilage breaks down in the facet joints of the cervical (upper) spine, causing increased friction and inflammation. This often happens with age because cartilage naturally loses water and protein content. Over time, this can cause the protective joint linings to become brittle and begin to deteriorate.

Symptoms of neck arthritis can range from minor aches and stiffness, to more intense radiating symptoms that travel into the upper extremities. If your life is being affected spinal arthritis, learning more about this condition can help you become more involved in your treatment and give you a better chance of returning to the quality of life you deserve.

Conditions associated with neck arthritis

Also known as cervical spine arthritis and cervical osteoarthritis, neck arthritis commonly causes the formation of bone spurs. These smooth growths of bone are the body’s natural attempt to stabilize the joints due to the increased friction from bone-on-bone contact. While not always painful, bone spurs can cause symptoms by narrowing the spinal canal or nerve root exits, which puts pressure on nearby nerves. This in turn can cause the following symptoms to travel into the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers:

  • Shooting, burning pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of fine motor function

Finding relief from arthritis in the neck

After diagnosing spinal osteoarthritis in the cervical region, a physician might recommend a treatment plan that includes conservative therapies like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, cortisone injections, hot/cold compression, and exercise. If the chronic pain and stiffness associated with spinal arthritis do not respond to nonsurgical treatments and quality of life is impacted, surgery may become an option.

The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^ Our outpatient procedures are designed to treat the symptoms of neck arthritis and other spinal conditions with muscle-sparing techniques like a less than 1-inch incision.

To learn more and find out if you may be a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost review of your MRI.*