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How to Reduce Arthritis Neck Pain

By Aubrey Bailey

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that develops over time. Osteoarthritis causes breakdown of the cartilage -- the padding -- that is found in between two bones in a joint. Arthritic changes in your neck can cause increased pressure on the spinal nerves that run from your spine to your fingertips, making it a particularly painful condition.


Apply heat to your neck to reduce aching pain caused by arthritis in your neck. Wrap an electric heating pad around your neck for 20 minutes, several times each day. Wait at least an hour in between applications to allow your skin to return to body temperature. Apply a microwaveable hot pack as an alternative to an electric heating pad. Pour two pounds of dry white rice into a long tube sock. Tie a knot in the end of the sock and microwave it for 30 seconds. Add 10 seconds at a time as needed until the sock is hot. Place a towel between the sock and your skin to prevent burns.


Apply ice to your neck immediately after painful activity to reduce inflammation. Place a commercial ice pack or frozen bag of peas on your neck for 15 minutes. You will feel four stages of sensation -- cold, burning, aching then numbness. Keep the ice on until your skin is numb for maximum pain relief.

Range of Motion Exercises

Perform range of motion exercises to improve flexibility and reduce arthritic pain in your neck. Sit up straight and slowly bring your chin toward your chest. Hold for two to three seconds and then bring it upright. Repeat 10 times, but do not move into painful positions -and only move until you feel a mild stretching sensation. Tip your right ear toward your right shoulder and hold for two to three seconds. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides. Turn your head and look over your right shoulder. Hold for two to three seconds and then look straight ahead. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides. Avoid tipping your head up toward the ceiling -- this will compress the joints in your neck and increase pain.

Activity Modification

Modify your daily activities to reduce neck pain from arthritis. Keep your neck in a neutral -- straight -- position as much as possible. Position your computer screen at eye level, directly in front of you. Practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation or journaling to reduce muscle tightness, which can worsen arthritic pain. Rest after strenuous activity -- take a break every hour and rest for at least 10 minutes to reduce strain on your neck.

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