Home Remedies for Arthritis in the Neck

Natural Neck Pain Relief

If you have neck pain and stiffness, you may have cervical arthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis. Arthritis of the neck is a common problem, affecting about 85% of people over age 60. It is generally caused by wear and tear.

Surprisingly, some people with cervical spondylosis have no symptoms. Other people with confirmed neck arthritis have pain that limits neck mobility and may cause problems with activities such as sitting, driving, or light housework.

People with cervical spondylosis experience symptoms that vary in intensity. Your pain may be severe, or it may simply be a mild annoyance. The best time to try at-home natural self-care remedies is when your symptoms are mild. They can be the first step before resorting to pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicine.

If you have neck pain due to cervical spondylosis, it is recommended that you check in with your healthcare provider. They can assess your condition and offer you strategies to manage your specific symptoms.

Home Remedies for Neck Arthritis Pain

Jessica Olah / Verywell

Natural Remedies for Neck Arthritis

When treating neck arthritis, you may find that you need to use one or more natural remedies to find adequate relief. Some people only need one type of treatment, while others need to pick and choose different treatments to find what works best for their specific condition.

Heat and Ice Treatments

Some people with cervical spondylosis benefit from using heat or ice for their neck pain and discomfort.

Moist heat is used to decrease pain, improve circulation, and relax tight muscles around your neck. Heat can be applied in various ways, including:

  • Soaking in a hot shower
  • Using a hydrocollator moist hot pack
  • Placing warm compresses on your neck
  • Using an electric heating pad

When using heat, watch out for burns on your skin. Look for excessive redness, skin irritation, or skin discoloration. Heat should be applied for no more than 15 minutes, several times a day. If pain or redness occurs, discontinue use.

Ice may be used for acute neck pain or discomfort, as it is considered an anti-inflammatory treatment that decreases pain and swelling by limited blood flow to the body part being treated. Ice may be applied with an ice pack, ice bag, or cold compress.

You can apply ice to your neck for 15 minutes several times each day. Ice may cause frost burns. Use ice with a towel, facecloth, or other layer between the ice and the skin to avoid skin damage. Discontinue use if you feel increased pain or note excessive redness and skin irritation.

Consume an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Making changes in your diet may have an impact on your neck pain or discomfort from cervical spondylosis. Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet may decrease joint inflammation and relieve pain.

The Mediterranean diet is often cited as one that may be beneficial for people with arthritis. This diet, high in fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes, and red wine or chocolate, has been linked to decreased joint inflammation and improved mobility.

Avoiding prepackaged foods, sugary drinks, and red meat is a recommended part of the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet. Keep in mind that no diet is the perfect diet for everyone, and you may have to pick and choose various food items to consume for your specific anti-inflammatory diet.

The Arthritis Foundation has noted that "while there is no specific 'diet' that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should follow, researchers have identified certain foods that can help control inflammation. Many of them are found in the so-called Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables, and olive oil, among other staples."

Meditation

Cervical spondylosis can cause chronic pain and discomfort in your neck, and long-term symptoms can potentially wreak havoc on your emotional state. Research supports the use of meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for people with chronic pain and arthritis.

A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry concluded that "meditation is nowadays a practice that should be highly recommended within a nonpharmacological approach for chronic pain therapy."

For many people, meditation seems abstract, and finding the right way to participate in mediation may be challenging. Working with a licensed social worker trained in CBT and counseling is a good place to start on the road to using meditation for chronic pain due to neck arthritis.

Curcumin Supplements

The spice turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that may have anti-inflammatory properties. Research supports the use of curcumin as a natural supplement to help decrease pain and discomfort from arthritis.

A meta-analysis in the Journal of Medicinal Food reported that there may be "scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of turmeric extract (about 1,000 mg/day of curcumin) in the treatment of arthritis." The studies included in this meta-analysis are not specific to neck arthritis but rather focused on general rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

Keep in mind that simply using turmeric spice is not enough; your curcumin supplement should contain at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of the compound. Turmeric spice contains much less than this recommended amount.

Practice Tai Chi

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines slow rhythmic movements with stretching and mindful meditation. It has been shown to improve mobility, reduce falls, and improve symptoms in people with chronic pain.

A meta-analysis studied the efficacy of tai chi on people with osteoarthritis. It concluded that it might be "beneficial for improving arthritic symptoms and physical function in patients with osteoarthritis."

The study focused on people with osteoarthritis and not specifically on people with neck arthritis or cervical spondylosis. Still, tai chi is movement and exercise, and exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of pain and stiffness from neck arthritis.

Massage for Neck Arthritis

Massage feels good, and it may help to relax tight muscles and improve localized circulation to structures in your neck. Some research into specific types of massage has shown promise for reducing neck pain.

Cupping involves placing suction-type cups over your muscles. Some small studies have shown that cupping reduces symptoms in patients with chronic neck pain.

The American College of Rheumatology has published guidelines for the treatment of osteoarthritis and has stated that the research currently does not support the use of massage as an effective treatment for knee, hip, or hand arthritis.

While the guidelines are not specific to cervical spondylosis, it may be helpful to keep in mind there is little evidence that massage provides lasting relief for arthritis. Still, it may be one option to try when seeking out natural remedies for your neck pain.

When to See a Physician

Using home remedies for mild cases of pain or discomfort from neck arthritis is fine, but there are some occasions when checking in with your healthcare provider is important. Symptoms that may require you to visit your healthcare provider for your cervical spondylosis may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in multiple joints
  • Redness and swelling in your joints that does not resolve within a few days
  • Pain or swelling that limits your normal functional activity
  • Pain that is accompanied by fever, malaise, or sudden and unexplained weight loss (This may indicate a more sinister lesion is at play here, like a tumor.)

Since cervical spondylosis is a wear and tear condition, you may notice that you have some good days and some bad days. Most often, your home remedies should be able to help you maintain mobility and function when your pain increases.

Keeping the pain at bay may be done with exercise and with gentle stretches. If your neck pain from spondylosis lasts for more than a few weeks, check in with your healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

Neck pain from cervical spondylosis can limit your ability to enjoy your normal work and recreational activities. When you have mild symptoms, it may be a good idea to try natural and nonmedicinal remedies to get relief. You may find that one, or several, at-home remedies can help manage your pain and discomfort.

Most importantly, work closely with your physician or healthcare provider to find the best treatment for your specific condition. That way, you will have a strategy to maintain your current active lifestyle.

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10 Sources
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