Neck arthritis could be a result of a variety of arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. Osteoarthritis of the neck, which is also known as cervical spondylosis, is one of the most common forms of arthritis in neck. All arthritis conditions, if not treated on time, tend to worsen with time. Moreover, the treatment is likely to be more complicated in severe cases, and might even require surgery. If diagnosed at an early stage, performing certain exercises could help provide relief from the neck pain.
Pain and stiffness in the neck is one of the most common symptoms of this condition. While it could aggravate the pain when standing as compared to lying down, the pain could also increase while sleeping. This is because the spine does not obtain any support from the neck muscles during sleep, as the muscles of the neck are at rest and are in a relaxing position. What makes it difficult to identify this condition is that the pain is not just experienced in the neck area, but it extends to other areas such as the shoulder blades, the head, arms, and the upper back.
The pain starts at the neck region and then gradually spreads to other areas because of the nerve compression in the neck. In short, the symptoms include the following:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Loss of balance and dizziness
- Tenderness in the neck
- Weakness and numbness in areas such as the shoulders, face, fingers, hands, and arms
- Difficulty in moving the neck as desired
Although this condition is not completely curable like the other forms of arthritis, it certainly can be treated to an extent that it doesn't cause major problems. Moreover, following certain precautions can prevent the condition from worsening. Severity of the condition is the major factor that is considered by the doctors before prescribing the treatment.
The treatment may include non-surgical methods such as physical therapy or exercises, application of heating pads for better blood circulation or cold pads in order to reduce swelling in the region. Massage therapies and acupuncture could also be prescribed if the condition is not severe. Besides these methods, the use of anti-inflammatory injections and painkillers may be prescribed to reduce or numb the pain in the region. If the quality of life does not improve with these non-surgical methods, then the person might need to undergo a surgery.
Performing certain exercises can prove beneficial, provided the exercises are performed correctly. Here are some of the exercises that are easy to perform and not so taxing:
Cervical Flexion and Extension: This is one of the very beneficial cervical exercises for neck arthritis. It includes two postures. First, tuck your chin in and slowly bring your head forward, so as to touch the chest with the chin. Hold it for a couple of seconds and proceed with the second step, that is, cervical extension. Gently move the head backwards towards the ceiling and take it as far as it goes, but remember not to strain it. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Cervical Spine Rotation: It's a simple exercise wherein you need to turn your head towards either one of the sides, right or left. If you are comfortable with right, turn your head to the right side, stretch it as far as you can comfortably without any extra effort, trying for your chin to come over your shoulders. Hold it for about 4 to 5 seconds and repeat this on the left side. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Cervical Strengthening Exercise: In this exercise, you need to look straight and place your right hand against the right side of your head. Now, try to get your ear towards the shoulder, resist the motion while trying to do that. Do the same on the left side. Hold the position of resisting the motion for 4 to 5 seconds on each side and relax.
Lateral Flexion: In this exercise, you need to bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. While doing so, make sure that you don't strain the neck. Bring your ear as far as you can and then slowly bring left ear towards your left shoulder. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Another neck strengthening exercise is to bring both the hands behind the head, cup the hands to support the head. Now, try to push your head backwards, while resisting the movement. Again, stay in this position for a few seconds. Thereafter, release the hands and relax.
Though these exercises may seem simple, they need to be performed with a lot of care. Most importantly, one must not try to put extra stress or tension around the neck area while attempting these exercises. It is highly advisable to check with your physician before you start performing these exercises.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. Always consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program in order to reduce the risk of injury.