Benefits of Neck Bracing: Arthritis
What is arthritis of the neck?
As you grow older, you may experience neck pain that worsens over time. This may be due to arthritis affecting your neck vertebrae. This condition is known as cervical osteoarthritis, or cervical spondylosis.
Cervical spondylosis is caused by the normal wear and tear associated with aging: over time, the discs of cartilage between the vertebral bodies stiffen and lose their elasticity, leading to irritation and inflammation. There may also be abnormal bony outgrowths, known as osteophytes, narrowing the opening in the vertebra for the roots of the spinal nerves.
Cervical osteoarthritis is more common in the middle-aged and elderly population, and it is thought that poor posture and participation in high-risk sports, such as gymnastics, are also risk factors for developing this condition.
How is arthritis of the neck diagnosed?
Your physician will arrive at the diagnosis after a complete medical history and physical examination. The presentation of cervical osteoarthritis depends on the severity, but most patients will complain of neck pain and stiffness.
There may be limitation of motion, or a sensation of grinding during neck motion. These symptoms are noted to be at their most severe during the morning, and relieved by rest. Your physician may request additional examinations, such as X-rays, CT, or MRI scans.
How is neck arthritis treated?
The treatment of cervical spondylosis revolves around three major goals: relieve the pain, restore function and activities of daily living, and prevent worsening of the disease. For most part, this condition is treated with conservative and non-surgical interventions.
Pain relief is typically afforded by the use of medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Second-line medications include muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine and methocarbamol, anti-seizure drugs such as gabapentin and pregabalin, narcotics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and corticosteroid injections. These interventions are typically given in a stepwise fashion, with the corticosteroid injections reserved for the intractable cases.
Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles that stabilize the cervical vertebrae. This can also stretch and provide a more stable range of motion of the neck. The use of traction can also provide more space for the nerve roots, lessening the irritation that causes the pain.
Surgical interventions are typically not required for the treatment of cervical arthritis. An operation is typically done to remove the osteophytes or herniated discs that cause nerve root compression, or to surgically repair the stenosis (narrowing) of the openings for the nerves. Surgical interventions are typically reserved for patients that experience neurological deficits, such as numbness and weakness in the extremities.
What are the benefits to using a neck brace in neck arthritis?
Nerve compression can result when the spinal nerves are irritated. This can be triggered by certain positions of the head and neck. The use of a neck brace keeps the head and neck in a stable position and allows movement only along a stable range of motion, thereby protecting the head and neck from triggering attacks of pain. The neck brace also prevents the aggravation of injury and worsening of symptoms.
Patient satisfaction scores and quality of life can be improved by allowing the patient greater independence and participation in activities of daily living. By maintaining the head and neck in a brace, the patient can better go around his/her day without worrying about the neck triggering attacks of pain. These options should be discussed with the physician handling the case.
Shanes Neck Brace is an excellent pain reliever for arthritis. It’s Made in the USA, is waterproof, and provides unparalleled posture support for those with neck arthritis. Hello pain relief!
Akbari M, Bayat M. Effects of intermittent traction in patients with cervical osteoarthritis. MJIRI. 2010;24(1):23-28.
Tracy JA, Bartleson, JD. Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy. 2010;16(3):176-187. doi: 10.1097/NRL.0b013e3181da3a29.
Wilder FV, Fahlman L, Donnelly R. Radiographic cervical spine osteoarthritis progression rates: a longitudinal assessment. Rheumatology International. 2011;31(1):45-48.