Cervical osteoarthritis and hypertension: Are they related?

hypertension related to cervical osteoarthritis

Cervical arthritis and hypertension are both very common. Although the relationship between these medical conditions has not been studied extensively, many people observe an increase in their blood pressure after an increase in their neck pain.

In this article, we explore the relationship between cervical spondylosis and hypertension, explaining various hypotheses that may explain how a change in blood pressure is related to cervical spine.

Spine anatomy and osteoarthritis

La cervical spine consists of 7 overlapping bones (called vertebrae), numbered from C1 to C7. It is supported by a series of muscles and ligaments attached to the vertebrae. One of their main roles will be to protect the spinal cord and the vasculo-nervous bundle (blood vessels and nerves) around the neck.

The vertebrae are interconnected on the one hand thanks to intervertebral discs which make it possible to articulate two vertebrae via their vertebral bodies. On the other hand, each vertebrate is composed of articular facets called “zygapophysical joints” connecting two vertebrae via their posterior arch. Cartilage lines these joints, allowing movement between the vertebrae and avoiding excessive friction.

Like any joint, there can be degeneration over time. This phenomenon is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis lesions mainly affect the lower cervical vertebrae (C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7) and are located at several levels:

  • At the level of the discs (causing a compaction and a decrease in space between 2 vertebrae)
  • At the facet joints
  • At the level of the uncus (between the 3rd and 7th cervical vertebrae)

Bone deformities can then be created. They are called osteophytes, or parrot's beak for their characteristic shape.

To learn more about cervical spondylosis, see the following article.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major health problem across the world. It is estimated that this condition affects nearly 30 to 40% of the adult population, with an increasing incidence in developing countries.

Despite the numerous pharmacological treatments proposed, the results remain suboptimal. The common causes responsible for the poor control of arterial hypertension are attributed to patients' non-adherence to pharmacological treatment, especially when they are asymptomatic.

As a reminder, the risk of major cardiovascular events is higher in patients with hypertension than in patients whose blood pressure is controlled.

The link between cervical osteoarthritis and hypertension

Can cervical osteoarthritis increase blood pressure, and cause cervicogenic hypertension? Although there is no formal evidence to this effect, we can establish a link between these conditions via 3 probable hypotheses:

  1. Let us remember that there is an important vasculo-nervous network at the cervical level. The osteophytes caused by cervical spondylosis could thus compress arteries and disrupt the blood supply in the region of the neck and upper ribs. This would therefore affect blood pressure, and cause hypertension.
  2. The sympathetic fibers are found at the upper cervical level, and innervates the cervical dura mater and the posterior longitudinal ligament. Thus, a irritation of the sympathetic system can also induce a sympathetic reflex disturbing blood pressure, and causing hypertension.
  3. Chronic neck pain caused by osteoarthritis can disrupt pain-regulating mechanisms. In the long run, this could affect breathing, generate stress and thus cause high blood pressure.

THINGS TO DO

How control blood pressure if it is estimated that its increase is due to cervical osteoarthritis?

If pain-induced stress is judged to be the primary culprit of hypertension, treatment will initially aim to control the stress and then reassess the tension to confirm the relationship between these conditions. The following approaches can be used (in collaboration with a health or mental health professional):

  • Medication for stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Meditation (like mindfulness)
  • Yoga
  • Sophrology
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Etc

On the other hand, if it is believed that osteophytes are disrupting blood supply and causing hypertension, cervical decompressive surgery should not only relieve the symptoms of neck pain, but also normalize blood pressure.

In survey, the high blood pressure of 12 out of 30 hypertensive patients (or 40%) was reduced to normal levels after cervical decompressive surgery. These patients even stopped taking antihypertensive drugs after surgery.

On the other hand, it should be remembered that surgery should be the last resort to treat cervical osteoarthritis, and that it is indicated mainly in cases of serious damage (such as cervical myelopathy, or significant and symptomatic nerve or vascular damage).

Other modalities for controlling hypertension and relieving cervical symptoms are:

  • Antihypertensive medication for blood pressure, and painkiller/anti-inflammatory/muscle relaxant for osteoarthritis
  • A suitable diet (such as the anti-inflammatory diet) to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation caused by osteoarthritis
  • Physiotherapy and osteopathy
  • Adapted exercises
  • Yoga
  • Infiltrations 
  • Tools and accessories for neck pain
Acupressure Kit Acupressure Mat Cushion - Massage Ball + Pillow + Bag Relieve Back and Neck Pain Muscle Relaxation Acupuncture Post Sport Recovery Anti Stress
  • 【Multifunctional Physiotherapy】The acupressure kit set includes an acupressure mat and pillow, and 2 massage balls. You can use the acupressure set in different ways and on different parts of the body, such as lower back pain, insomnia, chronic stress, fatigue, tension, circulatory disorders, etc.
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  • 【Natural Ancient Indian Healing】 The acupressure mat has 230 massage nails, 6210 massage points, the pillow has 73 massage nails, 1971 massage points. Your weight is evenly distributed into thousands of small pieces to stimulate countless acupuncture points. Ideal for relaxation and promoting circulation. The size of the acupressure mat is 68*42cm, the size of the massage pillow is 37 x 15 x 10cm.

Last updated on 2024-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Partners API

RENPHO Cervical Massager, Shiatsu Massage Device, Back and Neck Shoulder Massage with Heating, 3D-Rotation Adjustable Speed, Gifts for Mothers Dad Women Men
  • Relieve Aches – The RENPHO neck massager gives you the benefits of a professional shiatsu massage at home, saving you time and money. Its ergonomic U-shaped design and 8 deep kneading nodes simulate human fingers to create a super comfortable deep shiatsu massage. This shiatsu massager relieves pain for the whole body; for use on neck, shoulders, back, legs, thighs, calves and feet
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  • MULTIPLE INTENSITIES AND DIRECTIONS - This neck massager will take the worry out of a sudden change in direction when you've found the sweet spot. It will keep a kneading shiatsu massage in one direction until you want to change it. Combine this with 3 speed levels and your pulling strength to surely find the right intensity to relieve muscle pain

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Six Wheel Cervical Massager,Two Massage Point Neck Massager,Compression Neck Massager Deeply Massages The Neck For Pain Relief, Ideal For Home Office
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: The graceful curves of this manual neck massager roller are the perfect combination of form and function. Different from other massage therapy tools, the neck massager looks more cute and humanized,
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  • Less Effort: This portable massager has a longer handle and uses the principle of leverage, which is more comfortable and less labor intensive. Compared to direct massage with the hands, less than 1/4 of the force is needed. Enjoy relaxation without feeling tired at the same time. When you squeeze the handle, the strength of the force is controllable.

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ALDOM Muscle Massage Gun Massage Device Deep Muscle Massager with 30 Adjustable Levels 6 Massage Heads and LCD Display Relieve Aches and Stiffness
  • 30 LEVELS Massage Gun:ALDOM massage gun Choose the speed and massage heads that best suit your needs can quickly eliminate lactic acid produced after exercise, and for everyday relieve muscle pain, back and neck aches and stiffness, greatly reducing the time muscle recovery.
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Neck Hammock with Foldable Stand, Portable Neck Hammock with Compact Assembly for Rest and Relaxation, Relieve Fatigue and Muscles
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  • 【NECK RELIEF】: This neck hammock helps keep your head in a natural position to relax your muscles. Just 15 minutes a day, you will be able to see the difference. Also help you improve bad posture, stiffness and torticollis. Perfect for office workers, students, athletes, drivers, seniors, etc.
  • 【PORTABLE AND CONVENIENT】: This device differs from other hammock necks by its folding and removable support. Thanks to its innovative design and a free bag, you can take it everywhere and find a pleasant place to relax. No need to tie it to the doorknob, and the stand holds up after folding down

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Massage Roller, Qveetry 6in1 Foam Roller with Muscle Roller Stick, Massage Balls, Resistance Bands, Massage Roller for Deep Muscle Tissue Massage for Gym and Yoga
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  • 【Effective Tension Relief】Use this foam roller set before workout to stretch muscles and prevent muscle injury. You can also activate muscles to enhance exercise effects during exercise. It is also suitable for stretching and balance exercises. Use for 20-30 minutes daily to relieve tight, stiff muscles and relieve tension.
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  • Compex and TENS (electrical stimulation)
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What about natural remedies?

Home remedies are sometimes used in the presence of hypertension, but they should not replace a medical consultation. We must also pay attention to drug interactions and side effects, hence the importance of consulting a health professional at all times.

Moreover, although they are not supported by solid scientific evidence, several natural products and home remedies are used to treat neck pain and upper limb paresthesias, especially for their anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Turmeric : Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers very powerful, turmeric is one of the most used plants in a culinary and therapeutic context. The composition of turmeric is essentially made of essential oils, vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C, E, K) and trace elements. But it is to its composition rich in curcumin and curcuminoids that we owe them and calm skin of this spice.
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  • Ginger : In addition to the special flavor it brings to the kitchen and its aphrodisiac properties, ginger is a root well known for its anti-inflammatory powers. THE gingerol gives it its anti-inflammatory action. It is an active component acting on the inflammatory pain related to chronic joint inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, rheumatic diseases, etc. It has been proven that this active element is also effective in acting on the inflammation linked to arthritis and sciatica. Ginger also has other benefits thanks to its high potassium content and its richness in trace elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium) and vitamins (provitamin and vitamin B9).
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  • Omega-3s : Omega-3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a very important role in the functioning of our body. They are provided by food in three natural forms: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Beyond their action on the brain and the cardiovascular system, omega-3s prove very effective against inflammation. Indeed, they have the ability to act on the inflammatory mechanisms in osteoarthritis by slowing down cartilage destruction, thus they reduce the intensity of osteoarthritis pain. Sciatica, being most often linked to an inflammation secondary to a herniated disc, it can also respond to omega-3 provided it is consumed regularly. 

No product found.

  • Lemon eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is a plant most often used in the form of herbal tea or essential oil. She would have anti-inflammatory effects which give it the ability to act on the bone and joint pain in general and the pain of sciatica in particular.
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  • wintergreen : Wintergreen is a shrub from which a very interesting essential oil is extracted. It is one of the most used essential oils in aromatherapy. This oil extracted from the shrub bearing the same name, is used in massage to relieve sciatica and act like a analgesic. Indeed, it provides a heating effect thanks to its ability toactivate blood circulation locally.
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Remember that these products do not replace medical treatment. Do not hesitate to consult for support adapted to your condition.

Resources

References

https://bmcsurg.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12893-015-0117-y

https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/fulltext/2015/03020/cervical_spondylosis_and_hypertension__a_clinical.16.aspx

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