Osteoarthritis and Neck Pain: How Are They Linked?

Osteoarthritis and Neck Pain: How Are They Linked?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints of the body, including those in your spine. This condition can cause pain, a loss of mobility, and without treatment can lead to disability.

At The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care, our spine expert Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, has extensive experience in treating chronic pain from osteoarthritis in the spine.

Dr. Bo offers both nonsurgical treatments and minimally invasive surgery to address the damage arthritis causes in your neck and back, so you can get back to a physically active life.

Understanding osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear disease that develops when the protective cartilage in your joints breaks down and wears away. Without this tissue, your joint bones can rub together, creating friction that leads to inflammation and pain.

Cervical osteoarthritis describes the wearing away of the cartilage covering the facet joints in the upper spine (neck). In addition to the friction osteoarthritis can cause, the rubbing together of your bones can also lead to bone spurs – an overgrowth of bone.

Fragments can break off these bone spurs and float in the synovial fluid of the joint, which can increase pain and inflammation in your neck.

Your risk factors for cervical osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis becomes more common as you age due to the natural breakdown of the cartilage in your joints. You may also be at increased risk for developing cervical osteoarthritis because of:


If you injure your neck in a fall or auto accident, you may be more likely to develop cervical osteoarthritis, especially if your cartilage tears.

Weight challenges

If you’re overweight or obese, the excess weight can put unnecessary pressure on your joints, including the facet joints in your neck, making it more likely that you’ll develop osteoarthritis.

Your weight may also play a role in the development of chronic inflammation throughout your body.


Some people are born with cartilage that breaks down faster than others. If you have family members with cervical osteoarthritis, you may be at increased risk for developing the condition also.

Repetitive movements

If you work in certain jobs or play sports that require repetitive movements of your neck and shoulders, you may be more likely to develop cervical osteoarthritis. The condition is also common among those who frequently lift heavy things.

When to get help for cervical osteoarthritis

While you may be able to manage symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis in early stages with rest and over-the-counter medications, you should schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Bo if your symptoms are more severe or limit what you can do physically.

Symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis can include:

You may also develop pain that radiates down into your shoulders and arms. In addition to pain, you may experience tingling, weakness, and numbness in your neck, shoulder, arms, and hands.

If osteoarthritis in your neck puts pressure on your spinal cord, it can lead to a condition known as cervical myelopathy. This condition can cause pain, weakness, and tingling anywhere below your neck. In severe cases, you may also lose your coordination, have trouble walking, or have difficulty controlling your bladder and bowels.

Dr. Bo offers comprehensive diagnostic evaluations in-office to confirm cervical osteoarthritis. He also provides customized treatment plans to relieve your symptoms and restore the function of your cervical spine.

To find out which treatment is right for your cervical osteoarthritis, call The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care office nearest to you today or book a consultation online. 

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