Cervical osteoarthritis; Arthritis - neck; Neck arthritis; Chronic neck pain
Even if your neck pain does not go away completely, or it gets more painful at times, learning to take care of your neck and back at home and prevent repeat episodes of your pain can help you avoid surgery.
Your doctor and other health professionals can help you manage your pain and keep you as active as possible.
- Your doctor may refer you for physical therapy. The physical therapist will help you reduce your pain using stretches. The therapist will show you how to do exercises that make your neck muscles stronger.
- You may also see a massage therapist, someone who performs acupuncture, or someone who does spinal manipulation (a chiropractor, osteopathic doctor, or physical therapist). Sometimes a few visits will help with neck pain.
- Cold packs and heat therapy may help your pain during flare-ups.
A type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful if the pain is having a serious impact on your life. This technique helps you better understand your pain and teaches you how to manage it.
A number of different medications can help with your back pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil) can help with the pain. Always talk with your doctor if you need to take these drugs every day. Side effects may include stomach ulcers or bleeding, and liver or kidney damage.
- Low doses of prescription medicines used to treat seizures (called anticonvulsants) or depression (antidepressants) may help some patients whose long-term back pain has made it hard for them to work or interferes with daily activities.
- Your doctor may give you pain medicines called narcotics or opioids to use when the pain is very severe. These medicines are rarely, if ever, used to treat neck pain on a daily basis.
If the pain does not respond to these treatments, or you have a loss of movement or feeling, surgery is considered. Surgery is done to relieve the pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.
Foraminotomy Laminectomy Spinal fusion
Review Date: 06/04/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.