This condition is caused by wear and tear over time and is considered a normal part of ageing but the degree of symptoms between people can be quite varied.
Two examples are:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- This can cause disc space narrowing leading to increased load on surrounding structures and decreased movement
- Bone Spurs
- This can cause impingement and decreased movement
Signs and Symptoms
Pain will often be isolated to the neck unless there is compression of nerve tissue which may cause symptoms to radiate down the arms. There may be stiffness in the next with reduction in ranges of movement. Certain positions i.e. sustained sitting, may provoke increases in pain as may quick head movements. Muscles may be tense and in spasm and headaches may be prevalent if the upper neck is affected.
Avoidance of aggravating activities and attending to correct posture at all times is often essential. Heat or sometimes ice may be of assistance, combined with gentle stretching. Painkillers may be needed.
How Treatment Can Help
Whilst the degenerative changes cannot be reversed assessment and treatment may still be beneficial. A physiotherapist, massage therapist and sports doctor can assist by:
- ordering scans to investigate the degree of degenerative changes
- prescribe medication if appropriate
- teach appropriate postural and strengthening exercises
- relieve muscle tension by way of soft/deep tissue therapy and dry needling
- mobilise joints to attain maximal available neck movement and possible reduction in headaches