What is Neck Arthritis?

The most common causes of neck pain are soft tissue abnormalities due to injury or prolonged wear and tear.

What causes neck arthritis?
Degenerative and inflammatory diseases –

  • Degenerative diseases that cause neck pain include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older people as a result of wear of the joints between the bones in the neck.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis can cause destruction of the joints of the neck. Both of these major types of arthritis can cause stiffness and pain.
  • Cervical disk degeneration also can cause neck pain.

More facts about Arthritis of the Neck

  • Cervical spondylosis is primarily due to aging.
  • First presents after the age of 40 and continues to progress from there.
  • Statistics reveal that men develop cervical spondylosis at an earlier age than women.

What Happens in arthritis of the neck?

  • With age, osteophytes, or bone spurs form on vertebral bodies, as the body’s way of attempting an increase of the surface area and stabilizing the vertebral joint.
  • Generally not successful in this mission, the bone spurs can become painful as they put pressure on spinal nerves and in some cases the spinal cord.
  • Spinal canals also narrow as a result of the age-related changes of thickening of spinal ligaments and bone. This type of narrowing has the same effect as congenital narrowing


Recreational or work related stress in areas close to the neck could lead to arthritis of the neck. For example:

  • carrying loads on your head (for example, carrying a heavy surfboard down the beach to the waves)
  • professional dancing
  • professional gymnastics

Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis are caused by imposition on the spinal cord or the nerves as they exit the spine, or both. Neck and shoulder pain are the most common symptom. Types of neck and shoulder pain include:

  • A stiff neck is most often one of the very first signs. Neck stiffness tends to grow progressively worse over time
  • Radiating pain to the bottom of the skull and/or to the shoulder and down the arm. This radiating pain may seem like a stabbing or a burning, or it might present itself as a dull ache
  • Along with pain, cervical spondylosis can be accompanied by parathesias and muscle weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands, and a syndrome called “numb, clumsy hands”


The following methods are used to diagnose arthritis of the neck:

  • MRIs – Particularly useful for viewing the condition of the spinal nerves, MRIs take pictures from many angles.
  • CT scans provide good views of the encroachment on nervous tissue caused by the remodeling/reshaping of bones.
  • Myelogram – this imaging technique enhances the visibility of X-rays. They are especially good for seeing problems located at nerve roots.