Order by Phone (USA) 1 800 741 5716

Order by Phone (USA) 1 800 741 5716



 Manual Therapy for Treating Stiff and Painful Neck 

Most symptoms of neck arthritis respond well to conservative treatment

Cervical spondylosis is extremely common. More than 85 percent of people over the age of 60 are affected.

The condition most often causes pain and stiffness in the neck—although many people with cervical spondylosis experience no noticeable symptoms.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, in most cases, cervical spondylosis responds well to conservative treatment.


Neck arthritis can manifest for a number of reasons including, genetic (inherited), occupational and/or historic trauma

Cervical spondylosis is also known as arthritis of the neck.

It is caused by the degeneration or “wear and tear” of the cervical spine, including the joints between the bones and the discs between the vertabrae of the neck. Abnormal spurs or growths on the edges of the vertabrae called osteophytes may also contribute to this condition.

This is all part of the normal degeneration process that the body goes through as a result of ageing. In many people, these changes won’t bring about any symptoms. For others, these degenerative changes may put pressure on the spinal nerves as they exit the spinal cord through openings called foramenae.

Although cervical spondylosis is a form of arthritis, it is unusual for it to become the type that is disabling or crippling. However, an arthritic neck can sometimes cause unpleasant symptoms including a sudden "locking: pain; aching in the neck and skull; and neck stiffness in the morning, or after sitting for a long time.

Neck arthritis can manifest for a number of reasons including, genetic (inherited), occupational and/or historic trauma. Whatever the cause, the body is forced to react, as your body wants to protect you. When the neck bones become stiff the multitude of local little muscles can’t extend to their full capacity. This leads to a type of ‘muscular frustration’ and knots develop in these muscles, which are also known as trigger points.

Common Symptoms - Neck Arthritis

Symptoms usually develop over time but may also come on suddenly.

The pain experienced may be manageable, or so severe and deep that you are immobile.

Pain will often be felt over the shoulder blade, but in rare cases will spread to the arm and hand.

The following may make your pain worse:

  • Sneezing, laughing or coughing

  • Getting up after sitting or sleeping for long periods

  • Bending the neck backwards

If a nerve is being pinched it is possible that you will experience some muscle weakness and it may be that you have difficulty squeezing your hand tightly or lifting your arm.
Other common symptoms include:
  • Headaches in the back of your head

  • Numbness or other unusual sensations in the shoulder

  • Stiff neck that gets worse

Neck Arthritis Treatment

Neck arthritis is a painful condition that can be caused by a number of factors, including injuries, trauma, and aging. However, it is usually not a serious disease and may be easily treated. The main objective of a treatment plan is to relieve pain and reduce the risk of damage to the spinal nerve roots. A good treatment plan includes resting the neck, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and engaging in physical therapy.

When you visit a doctor for a neck ache, the first thing they will do is ask about your medical history. This will help them determine the cause of the symptoms and decide on a treatment plan. They may also conduct a physical exam to examine your muscles, reflexes, and joints. If you have a history of chronic pain, your physician might recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce the inflammation. In severe cases, a stronger anti-inflammatory medication might be prescribed.

A physical therapist might give you exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your range of motion. You can also receive chiropractic adjustments or steroid injections to help relieve pain. Depending on your specific needs, the therapist will design a treatment plan that can include these procedures. Physical therapy sessions can also be used to increase the flexibility of your spine and neck.

Some people find that heat or ice therapy is useful in reducing the pain associated with a bout of neck arthritis. A heating pad or ice pack can help reduce inflammation, but do not use them for more than 15 minutes at a time. For maximum results, wait a couple of hours between treatments.

In addition to reducing pain, ice and heat can relax muscles and increase blood flow. You should also avoid positions that cause discomfort or make the symptoms worse. Do not overuse the neck, and always consult a healthcare professional before trying any new treatments.

Neck arthritis typically occurs as a result of wear and tear on the joints and discs of the cervical spine. As we age, the bones and ligaments in our neck become thicker and more brittle. Discs can begin to weaken and expand, putting additional pressure on the vertebrae. Overtime, this can lead to osteoarthritis.

In inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the cartilage on the vertebrae wears out and causes friction. Bone spurs can also develop and impinge on the spinal nerve root. These bone spurs can cause radicular pain, which is electrical shock-like.

X-rays can reveal arthritic changes and an electromyogram is designed to test the nerves in the spine. Your healthcare provider can also prescribe topical creams and over-the-counter medications to manage the pain. There are also self management courses available to help you learn how to manage your health.

A physical therapist can provide recommendations on how to strengthen the muscles and joints in the neck and back. Your healthcare provider will also evaluate your strength and range of motion, and will test your reflexes and sense of balance.

Trigger Point Therapy - Neck Arthritis

Trigger points in the neck muscles cause them to be shorter, tighter and tenser and can ‘live’ in muscles for years if untreated. Treating these trigger points can deliver both short and long term relief.

In cases of neck arthritis we usually look to treat trigger points in the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, semispinalis capitis, splenius cervicis, and sub-occipital muscles.

If you have been diagnosed with neck arthritis, you should seek treatment with an experienced manual therapist who will be able to treat your trigger points, and help you implement some self-help and lifestyle changes that will help you effectively manage the condition.

Massage For Neck Arthritis

Neck arthritis can be painful. The pain may be aggravated by activities such as driving or sports. However, massage can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

If you have a history of neck pain or you have been diagnosed with a condition such as osteoporosis, you should seek medical advice before you start massage therapy. Also, check with your doctor before attempting to stretch.

Massage therapy can be beneficial for those with arthritis. It can improve blood circulation and improve the range of motion in the joints. But it also may cause temporary soreness.

The best way to avoid this is to get a professional massage. Your massage therapist will likely know if your condition requires special attention. They will also be able to advise you about ways to prevent or manage your pain.

One study found that people who received a weekly moderate pressure massage experienced reduced neck pain. In addition, they also had an increase in range of motion in their neck. These results suggest that moderate pressure is beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Another study found that using heat on a patient's muscles during a massage session could relieve arthritis-related pain. Heat also relaxes the muscle and increases blood flow, which reduces inflammation.

The goal of neck arthritis massage is to decrease the pain and discomfort associated with the disease. Some research suggests that the therapy may help manage flare-ups, too.

Acupuncture For Neck Arthritis

There are many ways to alleviate neck arthritis. Conventional treatments include pain medications, muscle relaxants, and massage. Acupuncture can also be used. It has been used for thousands of years and has been proven to help relieve symptoms.

Acupuncture works by triggering the release of neurotransmitters that reduce the sensation of pain. The acupuncture needle causes the production of cortisol, a hormone that helps control inflammation.

Acupuncture for neck arthritis can be effective. However, it depends on the severity of your symptoms. If you have a persistent condition, you may want to consult with a physician. You can also try other methods of relieving neck arthritis, such as exercise or ice therapy.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting small needles into specific points on the body. These points are said to help unblock energy and allow for better flow.

Acupuncture can help to decrease inflammation and strengthen muscles. It can also provide relief for headaches and shoulder pain.

Unlike other treatment options, acupuncture can be effective for long-term neck pain relief. However, you should keep in mind that it is not a substitute for conventional care.

Before starting acupressure, you should make sure that you have a qualified acupuncturist perform the treatment. He or she will assess your body and choose the appropriate acupressure point. Also, it is a good idea to pace yourself when getting acupuncture.

For acupressure to be effective, the points should be stimulated with a firm pressure. In addition, you should not apply the acupressure to an inflamed or swollen area.

Physical Therapy For Neck Pain and Stiffness

If you're suffering from neck pain, you should consider physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to improve your range of motion, reduce pain, and strengthen the muscles around your neck.

Physical therapists can create a personalized plan to address your needs. They will take into consideration your current condition, as well as your goals and lifestyle. Your physical therapist can teach you specific exercises to help you increase flexibility, restore strength, and endurance, and prevent neck pain.

If you're experiencing pain in the neck, it's important to get an evaluation from your physician. In addition to the pain, you may experience tingling or numbness in your arm or upper extremities. You may also experience headaches, shoulder pain, or a loss of mobility. It's a good idea to describe your symptoms in detail so your physician can provide you with the best treatment possible.

Neck pain can be caused by an injury, a condition such as arthritis, or even by diseases like meningitis. However, it can be difficult to diagnose the cause.

During physical therapy for neck pain, the therapist will work with you to develop a customized program. This can include therapeutic exercises, modalities, and lifestyle changes. These treatments will help you increase your range of motion, relieve painful spasms, and prevent future neck pain.

Neck pain can be a challenge to treat, but you can find relief. One of the most effective and conservative treatment options is physical therapy.


See also: Treating Neck Pain and Stiffness for Therapists 



This blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 



feel good learning
NAT Global Campus Logo
NAT global campus

Learn More for Less

NAT Global Campus

Unlimited access to all CE courses for just $19.95/mo