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Old 06-04-2011, 09:23 AM   #1
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Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

I am 56 years old and I have cervical arthritis. At least one of the vertebrae in my cervical spine has a bone spur, and I have bone degeneration. This was first diagnosed approximately five years ago from x-rays due to an unrelated incident. I've had a clicking sound in the back of my neck for years occurring when I move my head from side to side. It used to not hurt. However that isn't strictly true anymore. The click doesn't necessarrly occur every time I move my head from side to side, and it doesn't necessarily hurt every time I do that, but usually long before the end of the day the pain starts and builds up from there. It can start from something as innocent as spending too much time in bed with my head on my pillow. I can't lay on my back for long due to the painful pressure on the back of my neck. I have a Philadelphia style cervical collar and a foam rubber collar. I occasionally use the harder collar when I sit and watch TV, but I use the foam rubber collar much more often. They offer some relief. I also have a shiatsu kneading type massager which I occasionally use on the back of my neck which helps temporally. As I get older it seems like the muscles in my neck that support my head are getting weaker. It is getting more and more difficult and painful to hold my head up level with the horizon. The range of motion in my neck has and appears to be decreasing steadily. When sitting at a desk or similar I have to slouch in the chair so I can comfortably raise my head enough to look out level. I've seen several examples of elderly people being pushed about in wheel chairs with their chins down on their chest, and I don't want to end up like that.

I am afraid that using my neck braces too much is doing more harm than good. Please, does anyone have any advice and any exercises I can do to gently strengthen my neck muscles?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Enowil; 06-04-2011 at 09:26 AM.

 
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Old 06-04-2011, 10:01 AM   #2
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

I would be careful not to do any exercises without a doctor recommendation so you can get the best possible results, you can damage your neck if you don't know what you are doing ,I have had cervial spinal for over 30 years ,and had a cervical fusion in 2002 and it has since came back but on 3 more discs . I am now 59 and waiting on a decision for SSDI because I now have lumbar stenosis and some mild thoracic which causes me constant pain, there is physical therapy for cervical arthritis but should be done by a licensed agency and ordered by a doctor, good luck ,would like to hear back

 
Old 06-04-2011, 06:24 PM   #3
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

It's time for you doc to order a cervical MRI to see exactly what is going on.

The cervical spine is different from the rest of the spine as 2 major arteries to the brain go up through the bone of the vertebrae to the back of your brain. A wrong move or a bone spur in a bad place can cause a stroke.

Once you know what is going on, consider seeing a spine surgeon(ortho or neuro) and ask what you can do as far as PT or epidural injections or other things you can do to help yourself. There is a disorder called cervical spondylosis that can sneak up on us older folks where the arthritis compresses the spinal cord and it can be virtually painless until we start to go numb from neck to toes. That needs to be assessed and the best person for that is a spine surgeon.

Stop using the neck braces. They make the muscles weaker and allow the arthritis to get worse faster. Gives all the work to the bones instead of the muscles.

Once you know what is wrong, then you can figure out what to do to help it.

hugs.........Jenny(fused C3 to T1)

 
Old 06-05-2011, 06:41 AM   #4
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

Thank you very much. I was afraid of that. Did I say that I was only 56? Anyway, yup, my mom had the cervical spondylosis thing too. Long long story. But thanks eh.

That's all very well and good advice, and I appreciate it, but it doesn't address my question. I asked for exercises to strengthen my neck, because I'm afraid that wearing a soft cervical collar as much as I do is weakening the muscles that support my head. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear. I don't have any ruptured disks or narrowing of the spinal canal. I do have osteoarthritis in my lumbar area showing up now too, but it's mild and no real problem. Yes, I probably do have arthritis in my entire vertebral column now, but I'm concerned here with the symptoms in the cervical area. And I am familiar with the two vertebral arteries in the back of the neck and their susceptibility to trauma. I have a bone spur on one disk, I don't know which one, that causes the tendon that moves over it when I turn my head left or right to make an audible click as it hangs up briefly on the spur, sometimes, but not all the time. This causes pain and inflammation that spreads all over my upper back between my shoulders. To make the matter worse I also have chronic rotator cuff tendinitis in both shoulders. I may or may not have one or more pinched nerves associated with either or both conditions. It's probable, but I exercise my shoulders and arms to combat any weakening that may not be associated with me getting old and lazy. I let myself go for a few years and it got worse, now I hope that with the proper exercise that I can catch up with the encroaching weakness and loss of range of motion. I just don't know any strengthening exercises for the neck that aren't too traumatic, like the kind we used to do in football practice back in school forty years ago. Can anyone help with that please?

Last edited by Enowil; 06-06-2011 at 04:19 PM. Reason: additional information

 
Old 06-05-2011, 01:05 PM   #5
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

I have had cervical spondlyosis since I was 20! Its not only for the older population and it can be difficult to learn how to live with sometimes. I also use a soft collar when my symptoms flare up but I refrain from using it or narcotic pain meds unless the pain is very bad (which took over a year to realize how to adjust my life and use the medical stuff to work best for me). I also have ruptured just about every disc in my cervical spine (and some lumbar) and the compression causes a lot of pain through my right arm and horrible headaches. I would suggest not using the collars too often because they do cause the neck muscles to become weaker and then you have to build them back up again with PT.

 
Old 06-05-2011, 01:57 PM   #6
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

Hi Brooklyngirl....in your case, spondylosis just means you have osteoarthritis of the cervical spine(and probably the rest of the spine). But in an older person, there is a very specific disorder that hits about 3% of the population and is actually called "Cervical Spondylosis"....confusing, I know. The difference between the 2 is the symptoms. For a younger person, a lot of pain is involved. For the older person, no pain is the hallmark of the disorder. For us, the first symptom may be numb feet and difficulty driving as we can't feel the gas peddle very well or the brake. We have compression of the spinal cord instead of compression of the spinal nerves which is what you have.

Why it happens this way, I have no clue. All I know is that I couldn't feel the gas peddle very well with numb feet and went for an MRI and found I had multiple areas of cord compression very deeply into the cord. No pain, or very little. But I could barely walk. And even after 2 surgeries, my feet are still numb...waited too long to have it fixed...and I was only 55.

Jenny

 
Old 06-06-2011, 07:50 AM   #7
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennybyc View Post
Hi Brooklyngirl....in your case, spondylosis just means you have osteoarthritis of the cervical spine(and probably the rest of the spine). But in an older person, there is a very specific disorder that hits about 3% of the population and is actually called "Cervical Spondylosis"....confusing, I know. The difference between the 2 is the symptoms. For a younger person, a lot of pain is involved. For the older person, no pain is the hallmark of the disorder. For us, the first symptom may be numb feet and difficulty driving as we can't feel the gas peddle very well or the brake. We have compression of the spinal cord instead of compression of the spinal nerves which is what you have.

Why it happens this way, I have no clue. All I know is that I couldn't feel the gas peddle very well with numb feet and went for an MRI and found I had multiple areas of cord compression very deeply into the cord. No pain, or very little. But I could barely walk. And even after 2 surgeries, my feet are still numb...waited too long to have it fixed...and I was only 55.

Jenny
could this be the cause of the numbness in my right thigh after walking for a couple of minutes

 
Old 06-06-2011, 10:44 AM   #8
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

My nerve compression symptoms are caused by many ruptured discs in my cervical spine, the narrowing (stenosis) and degeneration (spondlyosis) cause spinal cord compression. I suffer from both forms of compression symptoms including numbness (they tested me for MS but thankfully it was negative but they found all of this other fun stuff) in my arms (and legs but to a much lesser extent). I know I have arthritis because I have both Lupus and Sjogren's Syndrome so all of my joints take turns being painful and swollen but only my spine has degeneration or anything noticable on the mri.

 
Old 06-06-2011, 04:38 PM   #9
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

And Brooklyngirl, your spine is OA(just to top it off).I have RA, secondary Sjogrens and severe OA....I know how you feel.

Like you, I had 4 herniated disks in my neck, 4 levels of cord compression down to 5-6 mms(half thickness...cord looked like a pancake), stenosis building from the back very noticeably, and was rated severe for every foramina from C3 to C7 and beyond. And yet, I didn't hurt. In fact, I worked 12 hour days for the week prior to surgery so I would be fully caught up(and ahead) at work. I had so little pain I wondered why I was doing this. Almost backed out but the urgency with which my doc demanded I get into surgery made me go. He usually takes 4-6 months to even see and he saw me 2 weeks after getting the MRI report and then scheduled me for surgery as urgent and I was done 4 weeks alter when normally it would have been another 4-6 months wait. He scared me!

Amazing how the same problems manifest differently in different people.

Jenny

 
Old 06-06-2011, 04:41 PM   #10
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

Capatga...could be. Have you had a cervical MRI?(I can't remember...I talk to so many here with spine issues...sorry).

My thighs were stiff....so stiff I walked with baby steps because they wouldn't go forward many days. My feet were numb but the thighs were stiff and slightly numb.

Could also be a compressed nerve in the lumbar spine too.

Hugs...........Jen

 
Old 06-08-2011, 06:43 AM   #11
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Re: Cervical Arthritis, getting older, need advise

Enowil - about the neck exercises for strengthening. Very hard to describe them here. A Suggestion? Book some time with a physiotherapist specifically to show you how to do exercises for your neck. A good therapist should provide you with demonstration and a handout with diagrams and descriptions for strengthening your neck muscles. My neck exercises are for maintaining the fullest range of motion possible, and are therefore more like stretches, you know, so my neck will not seize up. In fact, I am not supposed to use a collar of any kind, because of the danger of my neck muscles becoming too weak to support my head on their own.
I hope this helps,

Paddy

Fibromyalgia, Carpal Tunnel, deQuervaines Synovitis, Sinusitis, Migraine, TMJ

 
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