Cervical Osteoarthritis What it is, Symptoms and Treatment

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Cervical osteoarthritis is a disease of the spine that affects the cervical region, which is the region of the neck. It commonly affects people over 50 years due to the natural wear of the joints that happens when someone ages. However, it can also affect people of any age as it is mainly related to body posture.

Joint wear of the cervical region may cause the person to present symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness and difficulty moving. It is therefore important to consult the orthopedist for an evaluation after which the most appropriate treatment can be done; either by medication, physiotherapy and in some cases, surgery.

Symptoms of Cervical Osteoarthritis

The onset of the symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis begins as the cervical region degeneration and local inflammation occur. The main symptoms include:

  • Neck pain, which worsens with movements
  • Tension headache
  • Difficulty turning your neck sideways or turning your head up or down
  • The feeling of having “sand” inside the spine when moving the neck
  • There may be a feeling of numbness or tingling in the neck, shoulders or arms.

The neck pain in some cases may also radiate to the shoulders, arms and hands. It is important to consult an orthopedist when there is no improvement over time as examinations such as an x-ray of the spine or magnetic resonance imaging can be performed during diagnosis so as to start the appropriate treatment.

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How treatment is done

Treatment of cervical osteoarthritis should be indicated by the orthopedist according to the symptoms presented and the age of the person. The treatment should be started as soon as possible to avoid involving other parts of the cervical region. The doctor may initially prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. In some cases, when there is no improvement after using medications, they may indicate the performance of surgery and/or physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy for Cervical Osteoarthritis

Physiotherapy is an important part of treatment of cervical osteoarthritis as it helps prevent joint stiffness. Devices such as ultrasound, laser, shortwave and alternating currents can be used during the physical therapy treatment. Besides being important, mucle strenghthening exercises keep the muscles healthy, to avoid postural complications that can aggrevate osteoarthritis.

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