Cervical Degenerative Joint Disease

Cervical degenerative joint disease can cause severe neck pain, limited neck motion, headaches, and muscle weakness. It’s an arthritic condition accelerated by overuse of the joint and the natural aging process. It typically occurs because of natural degeneration and deterioration of the cervical spine.

 Specialized Physical Therapy can take steps to alleviate neck pain and other symptoms with a personalized treatment plan.

Overview: Cervical Degenerative Joint Disease

It is an arthritic condition associated with the natural aging and degeneration of the cervical spine. This joint disease may also result from mechanical instabilities or changes within the joint.

The cervical joint is made up of three joints that work together to connect the cervical vertebrae. One joint is present between the two vertebra bodies connected by an intervertebral disc. The other two facet joints are responsible for securing the vertebra.

There is smooth, shiny cartilage covering facet joints. It allows the ends of the bones to slide and glide easily against one another. In normal cases, this joint cartilage is white, translucent, and smooth.

In the early stages of Cervical Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), the cartilage turns yellow and opaque, with some areas becoming soft and rough. After some time, these areas become cracked, exposing bone under the cartilage. Bone spurs also start forming at the edge of the joint.

This condition may result in neck pain, loss of motion, and pinching of the nerve at the end of the spinal column. The neck pain may spread to the shoulder blade and arm, causing muscle spasms and discomfort with movements.


Apart from neck pain, the main symptoms include:

  • Tenderness and localized swelling in the affected facet joint
  • Muscle spasms and posture changes because of a neck injury
  • Difficulty turning the head, bending backward, and moving to the affected site
  • Radiating neck pain can lead to shoulder, arm, and wrist pain 
  • Loss of normal cervical curvature
  • Stiffened joints
  • Difficulty staying seated and looking up in severe cases
  • Limited range of motion


The possible causes include:

  • Cervical arthritis, degeneration, or age-related wear and tear of the joint
  • A severe neck injury or trauma leading to joint irritation
  • Sudden backward motions that produce compression on the facet joints
  • Disc degeneration placing pressure on the posterior facet joints
  • Repetitive stress injuries on the cervical joint
  • Genetics


The initial consultation begins with a detailed examination. We observe the severity of your symptoms and pain patterns. The physical therapists will conduct a few physical tests to assess how the cervical degenerative joint disease affects your range of motion. Due to its genetic causes, we will review medical records and family history to complete our diagnosis.  We will assess cervical range of motion with the trunk and shoulder range of motion to determine if there is any correlation between these joints.

These steps enable us to rule out any other underlying reasons for neck pain and cervical injury. Subsequently, it ensures that we identify the actual cause and develop a treatment plan that addresses its specific needs.


Lifting light weights helps with cervical degenerative joint disease

Our comprehensive physical therapy plans focus on alleviating neck pain and associated discomfort caused by your condition. We integrate a series of onsite and home physical therapy exercises to optimize recovery time.

Physical therapy for neck pain revolves around mobilizations, manual massage therapy, and manipulations. These modalities and techniques are aimed to reduce inflammation and restore joint movement. Besides this, your physical therapist shall teach you stretching and strengthening exercises to restore joint flexibility and movement. We also recommend postural retraining exercises to improve neck and shoulder posture. In turn, this minimizes the stress placed on the cervical spine.

More importantly, our physical therapists consider individual routines, tolerance, and endurance while recommending exercises. These factors ease your transition into daily activities and hobbies.

Contact us or call 201-773-8851 for further inquiries about our neck pain physical therapy sessions and to schedule a consultation today.

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