A Degenerative Neck Condition

Cervical spondylosis, also called neck arthritis, is a degenerative condition of the structures of the neck. The joints, discs, cartilage, bones, and ligaments are typically affected by this disease. In cervical spondylosis, pain and stiffness of the neck are the most common symptoms. Patients may attempt lifestyle changes, medical, or surgical treatments to relieve the symptoms.

Making lifestyle changes

Patients with mild symptoms of cervical spondylosis can try home remedies for relief. Purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), will help to alleviate the pain. A heat or cold application on the neck can ease sore neck muscles, and regular exercise can speed up recovery. Wearing a soft neck brace for temporary relief allows neck muscles to rest. However, a neck brace should only be worn for a short time as this can weaken the neck muscles over time.

Managing neck pain with medication

Sometimes home remedies do not completely resolve the symptoms, and people must visit the doctor for better treatment. The healthcare provider will prescribe medications based on presenting symptoms of the patient. Medications for neck arthritis include muscle relaxants, prescription-strength NSAIDs, narcotics, anti-epileptic drugs, and steroid injections. Severe pain is relieved with narcotics and steroid injections, while muscle relaxants help treat muscle spasms.

Surgical treatment for cervical spondylosis

In severe cases of cervical spondylosis, such as cervical myelopathy or cervical radiculopathy, surgery may be recommended. The surgeries involve removing bone spurs or herniated discs to make space for the spinal cord and nerves. These surgeries help relieve pressure and provide symptomatic relief.

Cervical myelopathy surgery

For patients who have neurological symptoms such as weakness, paresthesia, and balance difficulty, cervical myelopathy surgery is an option. There are a few types of surgery for cervical myelopathy, including laminoplasty, which is the widening of the spinal canal, and decompression surgery with spinal fusion. Surgery is either done from the front or back of the neck. The doctor will choose the right surgical option based on overall health and symptoms.

Cervical radiculopathy surgery

If non-surgical options fail to relieve symptoms or if symptoms persist, cervical radiculopathy surgery may be recommended. A few surgical approaches for radiculopathy include anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, artificial disk replacement, and posterior cervical laminoforaminotomy.

Living with neck arthritis

Cervical spondylosis is usually an age-related condition that cannot be prevented or reversed. However, various types of treatment can help to alleviate the symptoms. Lifestyle changes, medical treatments, and surgeries are possible choices that can help treat neck arthritis. With the right approach, a patient can eliminate stiffness and pain in the neck.