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Stressful Times Can Make Cervical Osteoarthritis An Even Bigger Pain In The Neck

Cervical Osteoarthritis, a condition involving changes to the bones, discs and joints of the neck, is normally caused by the normal wear and tear of aging. Symptoms can appear at about 50-years of age and may include [1]:

  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Headache that may originate in the neck
  • Pain in the shoulder or arms
  • Inability to fully turn the head or bend the neck, sometimes interfering with driving
  • Grinding noise sensation when the neck is turned

How Stress Can Aggravate Osteoarthritis

Cervical Osteoarthritis is usually a chronic or long term condition but tends not to be progressive.

The condition can, however, be aggravated by stressful conditions. Between an extended and tense political climate, a global pandemic, and the holiday season, it’s safe to say stress levels may be at an all time high for many. According to the American Institute of Stress, physical pain – such as back pain, neck pain, and muscle spasms – are some of the most common symptoms of stress [2]. For those already suffering neck pain from bad discs, pinched nerves, cervical osteoarthritis, or other trauma, added stress can take a pain in the neck to new levels.

Increased stress levels can also increase headaches that originate in the neck. When faced with stress, anxiety, or depression, neck muscles often tense up, pulling on your neck joints. When these joints are pulled too tight, a stress headache can result in just a few minutes [3]. Stress headaches on their own directly impact mood and ability to perform everyday activities [4]. Add in chronic neck pain on top of that, and for many quality of life is certainly being impacted.

Neck Surgery Is A Last Resort

Neck surgery is usually used as a last resort solution to osteoarthritis, performed only if there is severe loss of function. Most cervical osteoarthritis treatments, instead, are conservative and tend to only provide temporary relief. Typical treatments include medication, physical therapy, ice and heat therapy, chiropractic treatments or perhaps a cervical collar. Many have also tried steroid injections (known as epidural steroid or cervical facet joint injections), which often offer pain reduction for the short term, but have proved to be ineffective in the long run [5].

Even in severe cases where surgery can be a consideration, patients need to be aware that neck surgery is riddled with many risks, with complications occurring in about 36% of fusion patients. In the same kind of surgery, 76% of patients required narcotics for pain and missed 3 times as much work as those who didn’t have surgery [6]. Surgery is not a guaranteed, permanent solution. Additionally, in our experience at Regenexx, few of the patients offered neck surgery actually benefit from it; most chronic neck pain can be treated without taking that risk.

Do Your Research:
Consider A Nonsurgical Solution With Strong Potential for Long Term Success

Our research shows that stem cell and PRP procedures may be a permanent solution to chronic neck pain/osteoarthritis, without big downtime. During our outpatient procedures, our expert physicians use precise image guidance to inject custom concentrations of your body’s natural healing agents into the exact areas of damage in your neck and beyond to treat the underlying cause of neck pain. Best of all, your downtime will be a fraction of surgery, with little to no need for opioid pain medications or time off of work.


  • Increased neck function
  • Pain reduction
  • Most individuals do not experience extensive downtime
  • Minimal time off of work
  • No surgery
  • Minimal disruption of regular routine

In a time that is already chalk-full of stress, don’t add more with failure to take action, or worse taking action that may only bring temporary relief.

We know it can be overwhelming to choose a solution for your pain, so if you’re a little earlier in your research process, perhaps you may benefit from attending  a live webinar with one of Regenexx Pittsburgh’s three doctors.


[1]  https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/cervical-osteoarthritis-cervical-spondylosis

[2] https://www.stress.org/stress-effects

[3] https://nptvt.com/neck-pain-headaches-stress/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5539409/

[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/neck-surgery

[6] http://staging2.regenexxpittsburgh.com/alternative-to-spine-surgery-and-epidural-steroid-injections/