Neck arthritis is a very common problem as adults age. The medical term for it is cervical spondylosis. The condition usually manifests itself after age 40 and gets worse as a person ages. Men tend to experience neck arthritis earlier than women. As adults get older, the bones in the neck change. Bones get rougher where they meet. The discs, whose job is to cushion the bones, get drier and ligaments get stiffer as well. This degeneration can cause the space in the vertabra, or the foramen, to narrow. When this happens, the nerves become compressed and inflamed. This condition can cause pain that radiates from the neck down to the arms.
There are many symptoms of neck arthritis. The most common symptom is chronic pain and stiffness in the neck that gets worse when doing an activity in an upright position. Many may mistake this for a simple stiff neck, or muscle spasm. This is why neck arthritis is sometimes overlooked. When it is a symptoms, the person may notice a popping sound when moving the neck and feel the sensation as well. Muscle spasms, which are involuntary contractions of the neck muscle, may occur. This may cause the person to be in a lot of pain, experience loss of movement, or cause headaches. Another symptom a person may experience is a numbness and weakness in the arms, hands, and fingers. Numbness and weakening in the legs and difficulty in walking can be another symptom of neck arthritis. Having these symptoms can cause a person to have bouts of irritability. The condition can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, which could lead to fatigue. A person commonly has problems in the workplace, as the symptoms can interfere with finishing tasks.
Treatment of neck arthritis may include use of a neck brace, which will immobilize the neck. Medication may also be effective, and physical therapy is a treatment offering success in alleviating symptoms. More severe cases may require a person to be put in traction or receive an epidural. The most extreme cases may eventually require surgery. Surgery is considered a last resort treatment, as it often is not successful.
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