How Ra Affects The Neck
Chronic inflammation in the neck causes the destruction of the synovial joints, which are the joints that allow movement. When arthritis damages this joint in the neck, the cervical spine can become unstable.
Vertebrae are small bones that form the backbone. There are seven, and rheumatoid arthritis typically affects the first and second, called the atlas and axis, respectively.
The atlas supports the weight of your head and the axis helps your neck move in different directions.
An unstable vertebra can shift or dislocate over time and eventually press on the spinal cord and nerve roots. When this happens, you may have numbness and tingling around the neck that radiates up the back of the head. This is in addition to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
How Do Bones Degenerate
Imagine building a home, a task that required you to stack bricks to form the walls. As you labour intensively, your building partner decides that for every brick you put up, they’re going to take two away. You try your very best to keep up with him, but the wall you so carefully built begins to come undone. In your haste, you start placing bricks in random places to hopefully stave off the damage to your wall. This can create gaps, areas of weakness, or maybe areas where there are simply too many bricks and they start placing pressure on parts of the home nearby.
The ‘brick-layers’ of our story are known as osteoblasts, responsible for generating bone while the unhelpful friend represents the osteoclasts, responsible for breaking down bone. Both agents play a critical role in bone formation and typically play quite a balanced dance. This dance becomes more one-sided in certain situations such as when the body detects low levels of calcium, whereupon it may ramp up osteoclast activity in order to release this mineral into the body.
Arthritis In The Neck Symptoms
- Pain that radiates to the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
- Pain and stiffness that is worse first thing in the morning, and then improves after getting up and moving around
- Pain that gets worse again at the end of the day
- Improves with rest
- May include headaches, especially in the back of the head
Cervical bone spurs known as osteophytes are a common marker of cervical osteoarthritis, and cervical osteophytes may impinge on a nerve, producing the symptoms that radiate into the arms. If the osteoarthritis impinges on the spinal cord it could lead to spinal cord dysfunction, and condition that is called cervical myelopathy.
In some instances, cervical spondylolisthesis may be a secondary issue to arthritis in the neck, although spondylolisthesis is much more common in the lumbar spine .
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Arthritis In Thumb
Neck Pain Prevention Is Key
You can prevent some neck pain with these steps:
Learn stretching exercises. Consult a physical therapist if necessary. You should stretch every day especially before and after you exercise. If after exercising, your neck hurts, apply ice immediately.
Keep your back and neck supported. This is a must, especially sitting at your computer. If your computer is at eye level, it will keep you from having to look up and down and constantly change your neck position. Use a headset when talking on the telephone to avoid straining your neck.
Sleep with support. Use a firm mattress. If your neck is sore in the morning, you might want to buy a pillow that supports your neck as well.
Protect yourself from trauma by always using a seat belt when riding in a car.
Managing neck pain requires a consistent approach and carefully following the treatment plan outlined by your healthcare provider. Youâre the one in charge of making sure you take the time to exercise, strengthen, and soothe muscles. At times youâll feel challenged, but if you stay determined, youâll have the best possible outcome.
Symptoms Of Cervical Osteoarthritis
Neck pain from cervical osteoarthritis typically starts gradually and progresses over time. The neck may feel particularly stiff and achy in the morning and then feel better as the day goes on.
Some common symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis can include one or more of the following:
- Neck pain that typically feels dull but can also be sharp or burning
- Referred pain up to the head or down into the upper back
- Stiff neck or reduced range of motion
- Neck tenderness when touched
On occasion, bone spurs may impinge on a nerve root in your neck. This impingement can cause radicular pain into the arm, which can feel electric shock-like. If nerve root inflammation results in neurological deficits, such as numbness or weakness in the arm or hand, it is called cervical radiculopathy.
Read more about Cervical Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Also Check: Do You Get Arthritis In Your Feet
How Is Cervical Spondylosis Diagnosed
The doctor will generally begin by asking you about symptoms and taking a medical history. This will be followed by a physical exam of the body, with a focus on the neck, back, and shoulders. The doctor is also likely to test reflexes and the strength of hands and arms, check for loss of sensation, and watch you walk.
Other tests that might be done include imaging exams such as X-rays, computed tomography , and magnetic resonance imaging . MRI scans use large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to produce the best images of the body. You might also be referred to a neurologist.
Arthritis And Chest Pain Symptoms
Arthritis chest pain has usually associated some exacerbation, such as minor trauma or upper respiratory infection, or it may be related to inflammation from the underlying arthritis condition.
The pain is either dull or sharp but usually located towards the front of the chest wall. Sometimes, pain radiates to the back or abdomen. Pain can also be felt when coughing, sneezing and taking deep breathes.
Tenderness and pain are worsened when you press on the rib joints or the breastbone. Tenderness in the breastbone or rib cage is a usually a telltale sign of costochondritis and makes it easier to diagnose this condition.
Arthritis can make you feel fatigued for several reasons, and it can be difficult to pinpoint which aspect of having arthritis is causing your fatigue.
You will need immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- High fever, sweating, or chills
- Breathing problems
- Signs of infection, including pus, swelling, and redness in the chest wall and rib joints
- Worsening pain despite taking medication
Recommended Reading: What Are The Worst Foods For Arthritis Sufferers
Can Ra Cause Headaches
RA in the neck can also affect surrounding areas, and may cause referred pain in the shoulders, back, and head. Referred pain is when a person feels pain in an area of the body that is not the original source of the pain.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, neck RA can cause referred pain in the form of secondary, or cervicogenic, headaches.
People may feel pain on one side of the head or at the front of the head and behind the eyes.
Although there is currently no cure for RA, a range of treatments can help manage the condition, relieve painful symptoms, and prevent further damage.
Ra Medicines And Manipulating The Gut Microbiome
One reason that a medicine may work for one patient and not another may have to do with what bacteria make up each individuals gut microbiome, according to researchers at New York Universitys Microbiome Center for Rheumatology and Autoimmunity. For example, certain bacteria help patients with RA to convert dietary fibers into short-chain fatty acids that team with regulatory T-cells to suppress the inflammatory response. However, other bacteria hinder drug absorption. For example, a recent study found that certain bacteria metabolize methotrexate so quickly that the body cant absorb the drug for itself. Figuring out the commonalities of the gut microbiomes of drug non-responders as well as analyzing the intestinal dysbiosis of patients experiencing flares helps researchers figure out how they can manipulate the microbiome as a treatment.
You May Like: Does Vitamin D Help Rheumatoid Arthritis
What Causes Chest Wall Pain
Chest pain associated with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions can mimic a heart attack or other heart problem.
Research reported in the German medical journal, Der Internist, finds as many as 50 percents of chest pains are related to musculoskeletal conditions. Musculoskeletal conditions, are conditions that affect your joints, bones, and muscles.
Chest pain associated with arthritis affects the muscles and bones of the chest wall . For that reason, it is often called chest wall pain.
In general practice settings, the prevalence of non-cardiac chest wall pain in people with musculoskeletal conditions is 47 percent, this according to one 2015 report in the Australian Family Physician journal. And up to seven percent of patients have been diagnosed with chest wall pain in the emergency room.
Most reasons for chest wall pain are harmless and limited. Occasionally, however, chest wall pain may signal a more prominent problem requiring treatment.
What Are Risk Factors Of Osteoarthritis
- Age. As discussed, aging plays a large role due to the inevitable decline in muscle strength and the rate of turnover of bone.
- Sex. Women are more prone to develop certain types of osteoarthritis such as in the hip and knee, but men tend to be more prone to developing the condition in the cervical region.
- Obesity. The added weight places increased stress on the joint spaces, leading to accelerated degeneration. This also seems to hold true for osteoarthritis of the neck, although the association is not as strong as that with the hip or knees. Obese individuals were also more likely to report more severe pain and disability.
Also Check: Can You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis Without Swelling
When Arthritis Causes Neck Pain
Arthritis, specifically spondylosis and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause neck pain. Both prescription and DIY treatments can help you manage your condition.
Two types of arthritis commonly lead to neck pain: cervical spondylosis and rheumatoid arthritis. With both types, it’s joint damage that causes pain and discomfort in your neck.
Medication Options For Neck Arthritis
Analgesic and NSAID pain medication
Over-the-counter medications can be used to help address pain, inflammation, and swelling. NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Analgesics can help with mild to moderate pain. Your doctor can prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory if OTC medications dont provide relief.
Even though many commonly used NSAIDs are available over the counter, its important to talk to your doctor about side effects and drug interactions. NSAIDs can have significant side effects, including gastrointestinal complications, and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Disease-modifying arthritis medication
Neck pain due to inflammatory arthritis is typically treated with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug , such as methotrexate for RA. Other conventional DMARDs include leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine. Biologics are a newer type of DMARD that target specific immune system pathways. DMARDs help to reduce the immune system activity that is triggering inflammation and pain.
Steroid injections and nerve blocks
An epidural steroid injection is where doctors inject medicine directly into the epidural space of the spinal canal surrounding the nerve roots. The medicine is a combination of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic, which together reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The anesthesia offers temporary pain relief and the corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the joint.
Don’t Miss: Is Salmon Good For Arthritis
How Do You Get Arthritis In Your Neck
Dr. Christopher Hyde is a Chiropractor practicing in Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Hyde specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions associated with the neuromusculoskeletal system, while improving each patients functionality and quality of life. Conditions treated include sciatica, neck pain, and arthritis… more
Did you know that degenerative arthritis has nothing to do with age? It has a direct relation to time. By that, I want you to think about posture. Our bodies have a certain posture we are supposed to maintain. When we lose that normal posture due to slips and falls, auto accidents, sports injuries or even spending too much time looking down at smart phones, the process of degeneration begins. You see, every joint in our bodies contain sensors that send information to the brain, called a feedback mechanism. When the sensors detect problems, they send an alert message to begin this process.
We have all stood on moving sidewalks, right? You step onto it and stand there doing nothing. After a while you end up on the other side and your ride is completed.
Should I See A Doctor
You should talk to your doctor or other health professional if your pain is bothering you. They will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. In most cases tests such as x-rays and blood tests are not helpful in finding out the cause of neck pain unless there has been an obvious injury or strain. They may check for any serious medical problems that could be causing your pain, but these are rare. You should see your doctor if:
- you have neck pain following a fall or accident, such as a car accident
- your pain does not settle down or starts getting worse
- you also have symptoms such as headache and vomiting, dizziness, losing weight, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, sweats and chills or problems swallowing.
Don’t Miss: What Are The Five Worst Foods For Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Neck
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease where the bodys immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints. It often starts in the smaller joints of your hands and feet and can spread to other parts of the body like the neck as the disease progresses. This typically doesnt happen until years after the onset of arthritis symptoms.
Neck pain is the primary symptom of rheumatoid arthritis in the neck, with the severity varying from person to person. You may feel a dull or throbbing ache in the back of your neck around the base of the skull. Joint swelling and stiffness can make it hard to move from side to side.
The difference between rheumatoid arthritis neck pain and a neck injury is that stiffness and pain from an injury can gradually improve over days or weeks. Rheumatoid arthritis in the neck may not get better it can worsen if left untreated. Even if symptoms improve, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness can return with rheumatoid arthritis in the neck.
When Cervical Osteoarthritis Is Serious
If cervical osteoarthritis becomes advanced and bone spurs become big enough, narrowing can start to occur in the spinal canal and/or the intervertebral foramen .
See Cervical Foraminal Stenosis
When these spaces start to narrow, the spinal cord or a cervical nerve root can become compressed. Some serious symptoms that could result include difficulty gripping objects or even problems with walking or coordination. If the spinal cord or a nerve root is compressed for long enough without seeking medical attention, permanent damage can occur.
Read Also: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Thumb
How Is Arthritis In The Neck Diagnosed
Following a review of your medical history, your doctor will conduct a physical exam wherein he or she will evaluate the following:
- blood flow
- touch sensation
If necessary, your doctor may order one or more diagnostic imaging tests. These can include X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or myelography.
An X-rays will reveal the alignment of the bones in your neck and can document degenerative changes in your cervical spine.
Because it shows 3D images, a CT scan offers a more-detailed look at your spinal canal than an X-ray, which may reveal bone spurs.
An MRI provides a detailed look at the soft tissues in the neck, so your doctor can determine whether damage to these tissues might be causing your symptoms.
Myelography is a type of imaging test that uses an X-ray or CT scan and contrast dye to get a picture of the spinal cord and nerve roots in the spinal canal.
Your doctor also may perform a nerve function test.
“Nerve function tests, such as a nerve conduction study and/or electromyography , can be conducted to determine if the nerve signals are being transmitted to the individual’s muscles,” Dr. Singh says.
How Meds Can Help
Aggressively treating active RA inflammation is the best thing you can do to protect your neck and other joints. Treatment can help prevent cervical vertebra involvement in the future, says Dr. Bhatt, which is why your doctor writes a prescription for a DMARD medication when you get an RA diagnosis. These medications suppress RA inflammation, protecting your body from damage. Medications called biologics have made it possible for many more people to achieve remission or low-disease activity. Even if you already have experienced some damage to joints, including the one in your neck, continuing treatment may prevent problems in the future.
Read Also: How Do You Treat Arthritis In The Hip
Neck Osteoarthritis Symptoms Limit Your Life
We know that the pain and discomfort from cervical osteoarthritis is more than a distraction it can be life-altering. The symptoms of neck osteoarthritis include:
- Limited mobility, sometimes severe
- Pain that extends to the shoulders or arms
You can have a hard time turning your head to the right or left or bending at your neck as symptoms progress. Some patients even notice an audible grating or crunching noise when they try to move their neck.
Less common symptoms include nausea, headache, vertigo, blurry vision, and even memory challenges. Bone spurs in your neck called cervical osteophytes can cause pain, tingling and numbness, and weakness too, with pain radiating from your neck to your shoulder, arm, or hand.
Cervical spondylosis can put pressure on your spinal cord and cause another condition called cervical myelopathy, characterized by muscle spasms, difficulty walking, and reflex problems.
The types of limitations and discomfort that cervical osteoarthritis cause are also associated with high blood pressure, so getting treated is a must.