What are the Most Common Neck Arthritis Symptoms?

Madeleine A.

The most common neck arthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. In addition, limited range of motion can often occur, which can hinder the ability to turn the neck. In addition, neck arthritis symptoms are often worse in the morning because nighttime immobility can cause the neck to stiffen and hinder movement. Typically, arthritis is more common in the joints of the knees, hips and fingers, but it can occur anywhere in the body such as the neck and shoulder joints.

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis, which can affect the neck.
An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis, which can affect the neck.

Neck arthritis symptoms can be reduced with medications called anti-inflammatories. These medications include aspirin and ibuprofen, and although very effect in treating the pain, stiffness, and inflammation of neck arthritis symptoms, can cause severe side effects. One of the most serious side effects of anti-inflammatory medications can be increased bleeding. Patients are advised to notify their physicians if they notice unusual bruising, blood in the urine or stools, or nosebleeds.

A woman wearing a cervical collar for neck arthritis.
A woman wearing a cervical collar for neck arthritis.

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Generally, neck arthritis symptoms respond to cold packs and analgesic ointments. Many ointments and sports creams are effective that do not have the same telltale smell as those used years ago. Using a heating pad can soothe a sore neck, however, arthritis generally causes inflammation, which is better treated with ice packs or cold packs. When using a heating pad, however, people should make sure the setting is on low, and they should turn it off before going to sleep.

Neck arthritis symptoms are often worse in the morning because nighttime immobility can cause the neck to stiffen.
Neck arthritis symptoms are often worse in the morning because nighttime immobility can cause the neck to stiffen.

A cervical or neck collar can dramatically reduce neck arthritis symptoms because it immobilizes the neck and prevents movement. Usually, the symptoms of neck arthritis worsen upon movement. When the neck is immobilized as a result of the collar, pain is reduced or even eliminated. If an individual believes a cervical collar is right for him, he should have it fitted by a professional, so that it feels comfortable and does not aggravate the condition.

Using a heating pad may lessen the pain caused by neck arthritis.
Using a heating pad may lessen the pain caused by neck arthritis.

Occasionally, neck arthritis symptoms can mimic other conditions such as a herniated disc or muscle injury. It is therefore important to get a definitive diagnosis before treatment can begin. The physician will perform a complete physical examination and possibly recommend neck x-rays. If the individual does indeed have arthritic changes on his neck, they will typically show up on x-ray. Conversely, disc or muscular problems will show up only on tests such as an MRI. In addition to medication and cold packs, physical therapy intervention can often relief symptoms and improve neck mobility.

Neck x-rays are effective tools for detecting neck arthritis.
Neck x-rays are effective tools for detecting neck arthritis.

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