Neck Arthritis

I have osteoarthritis in both knees and my right foot and have accepted that and can work with that.  But the double whammy now is that I think I have it in the neck (maybe shoulders too) 

 Talk about feeling aged by 20 years- very depressed about this and I'm seeing the doctor next week so she can refer for a scan or MRI.  I thought at first it might be a bone spur because there's a thickened mass with a tiny lump at the top of spine.  I've always had this slight mass, but it never hurt like this.  My family and I were always ramrod straight with great posture and nobody had arthritis.  I've adjusted my computer to eye level, do neck exercises, shoulder rolls, but I am sick sick sick of pain.  Do we have to go through life like this (neck) or are there any options to stave it off from getting worse?

11 Replies

  • Hi sookiedee, I know how you feel I have the same it started off in my feet then to knees, hands and back and a few weeks ago went into my neck. My hobbies are gardening, walking, and DIY what a joke! They are now getting me to have  an x ray as they think I might be ready for a new knee hopefully if I do need a new one that will be one pain less. I'm not one for sitting reading or watching telly I find it quite boring, life is cruel at times I think, take care

  •  Hi Vondel, do you think back and neck exercises help?  I was thinking of going to a chiropractor to crack the neck and relieve some of the tension.

    I agree, life IS cruel at times!

  • Hi Sookiedee,

    Sorry to hear that you are in so much pain!

    I have exactly the same issues as you with a few extra's floating around as well.

    I use a Chiropractor and she is wonderful. It is certainly worth a try if you can afford it? Request a MRI scan and Physio from your GP and hopefully this will enable you to exercise safely.

    I wish you well with whatever you decide to try!

  • Thanks ryanbone for your comment.  We DO have a chiropractor near us, and I don't think it's too expensive especially if I can get some relief.

    Best wishes to you also!

  • The lady I use has 30 years experience and she was able to pick up on many things. She advised me to speak to my GP and request MRI Scans for both knees and neck, and hey presto, I have a Mensicus tear and OA in one and OA in the other, cervical arthritis in my neck. I now receive steroid injections in my knees which really do help. Toooooooo young for knee replacements they say!!!

    Look into it and the very best of luck!

  • I had knee reconstructive surgery when I was 36 and suffering from frequent sudden luxations which greatly increased my pain and disability. This had started when I was 10 due to congenital shallowness of the groove that holds the kneecap in place. I too was deemed too young for total knee replacement. The surgery and subsequent pt was a tremendous help for many years. Arthritis got gradually worse and knee felt so unstable that I would watch my feet as I walked, aware that the slightest misstep, a pebble or a twig could result in painful twisting of the joint. I believe that that is part of what led to neck arthritis eventually.

    Had total knee replacement in 2013 and though the rehab is long, difficult and painful, it was totally worth it! Rarely have any pain and it is momentary and minor.  Have also had both hips replaced with similar results. I feel like a new woman, except for the neck!

    What has helped for me long term are pt exercises for stretching and strengthening the neck muscles, stretching tight chest muscles and strengthening the muscles of the shoulders and upper back. I have continued these at home and in Silver Sneakers classes at the local YMCA.

    For short term pain relief there is nothing better than ice packs. There are kinds that are designed to sit across the back of the neck while you sit in a chair or even walk around. Just takes a few minutes to make a lot of difference. For times when ice packs are not available or convenient, BioFreeze works almost as well, though it is difficult to get it on all the painful areas without disrobing and using an applicator wand. Gentle heat helps too, I have a special heating pad that sits on my shoulders similar to the ice packs, but bigger. It also has 2 vibration massage motors that I can place right on the sweet spots on either side of the base of my neck, which are the most painful. Alternating ice and heat is often helpful.

    I have a Theracane which I can use to give myself a massage to loosen tight muscles. However, until I had gone awhile with the strengthening exercises, including some for the arms, I found that the exertion required could make the pain worse if I was not very careful. Also, the Theracane can be overdone, resulting in increased soreness. In fact all these methods can be overdone; too much heat or ice, or BioFreeze for that matter, can cause skin irritation or even burns, so use caution. I don't usually get skin problems unless I am really using more, or more often, than actually needed for pain relief. If I start feeling something like a slight sunburn on the back of my neck then I know I need to take it easy.

    I have found that it's best to use the short-term relief measures at the first sign of pain. Much easier to stop it in its tracks than try to relieve it after it gets really bad.

    On rare occasions I may take an oxycodone at bedtime so I can get to sleep. I avoid this as much as possible, because opioids can actually make chronic pain worse in the long run, if used too much. This can lead to using more and more, which can lead to dependence, sleep disturbances, and even death if combined with sleep medications.

    For sleeping it helps to elevate my head and shoulders and give extra support to my neck. At first I just used an extra pillow plus a sobagara cervical pillow, though I have since learned that you can get bed wedges for this purpose. As the arthritis has become worse, I have had to increase the elevation, especially as I can no longer relax in my recliner to read or watch TV, so I like to sit up in bed to read. I would love to have an adjustable bed, but they are very expensive, and I discovered a very inexpensive substitute called a Mattress Genie. It's basically a large wedge-shaped bladder which goes under the mattress on top of the foundation, and is inflated by means of a small air pump that fits conveniently under my bed. Of course it doesn't raise the foot of the bed, but I don't really need that; I use a pillow or two under my knees instead. I still use one regular pillow under my head and the sobagara pillow, and it's all quite comfortable for reading. Once I am ready to sleep I lower the head a bit using a corded remote control. Usually I wear a soft cervical collar as well.

    I also have an adjustable back rest made rather like a folding lawn chair. Not quite as comfortable as the Mattress Genie, and difficult to adjust while in bed, but more portable, and folds flat for storage.


    I hope anyone who suffers from neck arthritis finds some of these suggestions helpful. Would be happy to supply more details if asked.

  • That just was wonderful and sound advice syltownsend with all your tips and advice.  Thanks so much.  And very happy for you with the great success of your knees and hips! 

     I will certainly follow what you mentioned especially exercises for strengthening the neck muscles.  I DO have an ice pack and have been using that for relief. 

     I'm seeing my doctor today and will update further.  Thanks yet again for a bevy of information!

    All the best, Sookie

  • Thanks, Sookie. Another thing that has helped my neck is to use various gadgets designed to help take the strain off the arms, hands, wrists etc. I have a special knife that I use for slicing and chopping that I got when I had tendonitis but it also helps with hand and neck problems. The greatest thing has been a cart that I carry instead of a bag or purse. It's called a "stair-climbing trolley" and is available from Gold Viiolin. It is big enough to carry all my essentials without straining my neck so much. Almost always it's my right arm and right side of neck that are the worse, probably because I'm right-handed, so I usually pull it behind me using my left hand. It can also be pushed ahead but for me pulling is less strain on joints. The bag is roomy enough to pick up a few groceries too. I don't use it on stairs much because that's hard work, but for just a curb or a few steps it goes up or down easily. Another thing that helps neck and hands too are any gadgets that help open jars, bottles, etc. The simplest are a textured square or circle of thin rubber that gives a better grip, and an old-fashioned "church key" bottle opener which doubles for prying up snap-on lids.

    Just spend a few days noticing what kinds of activities and tasks make the pain worse, and you'll get an idea of what to avoid, modify or find a gadget for. For me another thing that aggravates the pain is weather changes, specifically a falling barometric pressure--and the faster it falls, the worse the pain. Can't control the weather, of course, but at least if I pay attention to it I have a better idea of when to expect more pain, and act accordingly by avoiding some activities and/or being quicker to use the ice, heat etc.

  • Thanks Syltownsend for all the invaluable advice!  The stair climbing trolley sounds great instead a heavy hand-bag and I DO have already that rubber type square to open stuff up.  You pinpointed everything I need to make life easier with pain except the weather!  Thanks again.

  • Hi Sookiedee,

    I am not quite 60 and 5 years ago realized there is osteoarthritis in my neck. I never say "I have arthritis"....I'm a stubborn old woman and didn't invite this nonsense into my body, so it's not worth considering it "mine", lol.

    After many years of searching for a solution, I discovered the most positive chiropractor around. Together with massage therapy for tight muscles that aggravate it, she and I have become the best of friends (I'm old enough to be her mom) - She has me doing things I never saw in my future - I've hiked up 3 small mountains with her family, ride my bike again, walk and walk and walk.

    I have treatments every 3 weeks, on occasion more often. In my case, I truly believe she saved my life. I was headed for a future of sitting in a chair, afraid to do anything for fear of pain. Pain is still there, but she's taught me how to handle it and to not be afraid to ask for help.

    I so hope you find relief. Never in a million years did I see myself - always lived my life in a healthy manner - with arthritis!

  • Hi Loves, Thanks for all your advice and it's so great you found a wonderful chiropractor. I DID see one a few weeks ago and she manipulated my neck (cracked) and it feels better.

    I'm like you - never thought I would get arthritis - it wasn't in our family and I just assumed I would jump around forever...ha.

    I also have lower back pain that doesn't seem to go away so will have that checked out too.

    Thanks for your cheery outlook and uplifting Post!

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