Arthritis In The Neck Due To Poor Posture And Related Stress On The Joints Is Seen In Stages Of Degeneration
Over a period of time, poor neck posture may cause joints to deteriorate, resulting in neck arthritis. The sensitive nerves can become pinched. Soft tissues like muscles and ligaments stiffen and become hard and inelastic as they try to assume a more supportive function. Because the joints become unstable the ligaments which attach bones harden and try to act like bones. The muscles used to move bones lose elasticity as they try to function like ligaments. This process of neck arthritis will continue and may result in severe pain and even disability.
The Process Of Neck Arthritis
Everyone suffers some form of neck arthritis as they age. Normal wear and tear is expected and may not result in pain. As a result of injuries like whiplash, muscle strains, resulting poor healing, bad posture resulting in altered biomechanics, pressure from the weight of the head and more, arthritis can result in a progression of deterioration. This causes pain from structures like the discs and joints of the neck (cervical spine), as a cascading of compressive forces collapses the spine, which forms the foundation of the neck.
This results in nerve & joint irritation; the disc space degenerates, loosing vital fluids and nutrients, joints become sensitive and rub together, muscles and ligaments become stiff resulting in loss of normal range in motion. Spaces where the nerves and the spinal cord sit become narrowed, resulting in stenosis of the cervical spine. All this works to fuse the spine together as the body tries to stabilize the neck. Like a crumbling foundation in a house, cracks can form in the walls and ceiling. We can keep patching it up, trying to stabilize the cracks that we can see and feel, but the foundation keeps crumbling, even as we try to place cement or nail boards where it is cracking. Unfortunately, this is not a house and the sensitive structures of the neck produce pain and loss of function resulting in disability.
As a Chiropractor, focus is on the foundation, rather than trying to patch things up. Methods like adjustments, exercises and methods to allow proper healing help to correct and maintain mobility and function. In some cases, surgery is the only option, however, there are ways using methods promoted at Neck Solutions that can help with neck arthritis.
1) This is a side view of a normal neck without arthritis. Note the jaw (A) in front and the base of the skull in the back. The normal forward curve is present. Note the equal spacing between the individual bones (B). The bones are smooth and regular. Joints are free to glide in a smooth motion (C). The small circles between the bones are openings for nerves which come off the spinal cord which are clear and unobstructed (D).
2) Here you can see the beginning of the degenerative process leading to neck arthritis. The nerves are obstructed and interfered with by rupture of the nerve roots which release toxins that are absorbed into the surrounding tissues.
3) If left to continue, the degeneration progresses; bone spurs form along the margins of the bones. Joint surfaces become rough and irregular. Discs in the neck begin to narrow and show signs of collapse. These are signs of progressive neck arthritis.
4) Now you can see a great deal of decay is present. There are many sharp bone spurs and the soft tissues begin to decay. Fusion has begun which causes the bones to become irregular blocks of calcium. Nerve roots are being destroyed. This stage of neck arthritis is very difficult to treat.
5) As if things couldn’t get worse, the extreme stage of neck arthritis.
Help For Neck Arthritis
A chiropractor can help determine what stage your neck arthritis is in and the best methods to treat it. Adjustments or mobilizations are important along with things you can do at home like cervical spine traction, heat therapy, neck exercises, the right neck pillow, quality joint supplements and topical pain relief and posture correction.
There are different types of neck arthritis. In this article, we have discussed what is usually termed osteoarthritis, where osteo means bone and is a general description. Some cases of neck arthritis exhibit rapid & painful degeneration, which may indicate a type of infection. Another type of neck arthritis is part of the rheumatoid neck disorders called rheumatoid neck arthritis. Regardless, it is always important to consult with your health care professional regarding any type of neck arthritis.