Cervical spondylosis - effective treatments?

Megrose489 Member Posts: 765
edited 12. Jul 2023, 20:29 in Chat to our Helpline Team

Last year I got up one morning and my neck and shoulders were excruciatingly stiff and painful. It gradually got worse and I had pain and tingling down my left arm and into my hand. I saw the physiotherapist at my doctor's surgery who diagnosed cervical spondylosis and gave me exercises to do. She thought I had a herniated disc in my neck due to degeneration of the discs - I'm 77. The only little relief I got from the pain was putting my hand to the top of my head and I've read that this might have been cervical radiculopathy. It improved very slowly over about six weeks.

However, for the past few weeks, once more I've had stiffness and pain in my neck and shoulders - especially in the morning - which lasts through the day. Thankfully, it's nothing like last year. I'm presuming that these are chronic symptoms of the cervical spondylosis - my neck creaks when I turn it - and am taking paracetamol and co-codamol occasionally (I don't like taking it).

Is there anything else I could do to improve things? I do the neck stretches the physiotherapist told me to do last year. Is it worth seeing the GP? Would an X-ray be helpful?

I have osteoarthritis in many joints.


  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,036

    I didn't get diagnosed without an X-ray.

    My husband is also having terrible trouble with his neck and has been referred for an MRI. An X-ray doesn't show soft tissues like discs only things like your bones.

    I think I would be back to the Dr, but in the meantime I'd rest up as much as possible and take any pain relief/anti-inflams you have been prescribed (or whatever your pharmacist might recommend).

    I also find a warm wheatbag (the kind you microwave) useful and ditched my two comfy pillows. Initially for a rolled up hand-towel but then a shaped memory foam pillow which keeps my neck aligned properly.

    Best of luck

    Toni x

  • Hi @Megrose489

    Thank you for posting on the Online Community. I am sorry to hear that the pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders has returned during the last few weeks. An X-ray would confirm a diagnosis of cervical spondylosis in your neck and if there is OA in your shoulders. Spondylosis refers to arthritis in the spine, osteoarthritis (OA) with degenerative changes in your neck.

    This condition tends to fluctuate with flare-ups and times when it seems to settle down. It can feel very debilitating when arthritis symptoms impact on daily activities. There are things you can do to help during a flare-up. Frogmorton has given some helpful suggestions.

    It sounds as if it would be good to go back to your GP to review your pain medication and explore treatment options. You could ask for an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to balance activity with rest and pace yourself. A heat pack and more comfortable pillows may help. NSAID gels or Capsaicin cream on prescription may be worth considering, to reduce the number of tablets you are taking. You can talk to your GP about this. It may help to revisit the exercises you were given by the physiotherapist as the pain subsides. A little and often is the key so that you ease the stiffness but don’t aggravate the pain.

    I hope the information given below will be of some help. 

    If you would like to have more replies to your post, you are welcome to repost on our Living with Arthritis forum which is another source of support to ask questions and share experiences with others facing similar challenges.

    Best wishes,

    Fiona, Helpline Advisor 

  • Megrose489
    Megrose489 Member Posts: 765

    Thank you Toni and Fiona for your help. I've just made an appointment to see the GP and will ask about an x-ray and also Capsaicin cream. I hope your husband's neck problems improve, Toni. I'm reminded of the saying that getting older is not for the weak!