Why Does Arthritis Lead To Headaches
Arthritis, the degeneration of a joint, can lead to inflammation and pain. If you experience arthritis damage at the top of your spine, in your first, second, or third vertebrae, headache pain can be a resulting symptom. Sensitive nerves connect your scalp to the top areas of your spine, so as your vertebrae deteriorate, you can feel referred pain in your neck, head, or jaw.
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.
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.
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Treatment Options For Cervical Osteoarthritis
Cervical osteoarthritis can usually be successfully managed without surgery. Common treatments include:
- Rest or activity modification. Going easy on the neck during a painful flare-up may ease pain. Also, you may need to modify some activities, such as using a different swim stroke if you enjoy swimming.
- Physical therapy. A physiatrist, physical therapist, or other medical professional can customize a neck exercise program for you. A stronger and more flexible neck has improved function, which may reduce pain.
- Over-the-counter medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help relieve inflammation from osteoarthritis. A few examples include ibuprofen and naproxen . Remember to carefully read the instructions before using any medication to reduce the risk for serious complications.
Foods To Avoid With Arthritis
There are foods that easily trigger inflammation and make arthritis worse. You should avoid or reduce the intake of these foods as much as you possibly can:
Processed and Processed FoodsProcessed and fried foods such as fried meat, pastries, and canned vegetables increase inflammation and weaken the bodys immune system.
AGEsAGE stands for advanced glycation end product. Its a toxin thats found in foods that have been grilled, fried, pasteurized, or heated. Your body uses cytokines which are inflammatory messengers to break down AGEs. This may result in the development of arthritis and other types of inflammation.
Refined Carbs and SugarFoods with high amounts of sugar like soda, white-flour pastries, and candy increase AGEs in your body so it becomes more prone to inflammation.
Alcohol and TobaccoAlcohol consumption could lead to the development of diseases like gout that cause problems to your joints. This raises the risk of developing arthritis. Smoking tobacco reduces the effectiveness of drugs taken for arthritis pain. It also makes it difficult to exercise so you will not be able to relieve the pain of arthritis.
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Can Arthritis Be Cured
Arthritis has no cure because the degeneration of joints is an inevitable process. Treatment is mostly geared towards slowing down the progression of the disease, minimizing joint damage, relieving pain, easing inflammation, and ensuring you retain the ability to function physically.
A combination of treatment options is used to achieve the goals above. They include physical therapy, medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
The Goal Of Treatment In Osteoarthritis Is To Reduce Joint Pain And Inflammation
There are plenty of treatments for spinal arthritis
- Back-strengthening exercises
- Warming pad or ice pack
- Topical pain reliever
- Losing excess weight
- Refrain from activities that aggravate pain
For persistent pain that is interfering with your daily activities, see a rheumatologist to make the correct diagnosis and begin the proper treatment.
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About Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology
Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology is first and largest Rheumatology practice in the Northern Kentucky area. Founded by Dr. Arthur Kunath in 1986, our rheumatology practice now consists of six doctors who are board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and a Physician Assistant. Patients see one doctor , thereby assuring continuity of care and an individualized doctor-patient atmosphere giving the physician the ability to establish personalized and detailed relationships. Our doctors have received numerous awards, including being listed as Top Doctors in Cincinnati Magazine, receiving the Patients Choice Award, the Most Compassionate Doctor Award, and the American College of Rheumatologys My Doc Rocks award.
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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 Cervical Osteoarthritis Develops
Pairs of small facet joints run down the back of your cervical spine. Each of your facet joints is lined with cartilage. This cartilage is surrounded by a capsule filled with synovial fluid, which lubricates your facet joints and enables smooth movements between adjacent vertebrae.
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Which Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Make an appointment with your rheumatologist right away if you start having neurological symptoms, like tingling, weakness, and numbness in your arms, hands, or fingers. Also call if you have muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders, trouble walking, loss of balance, headaches, and grinding or popping sounds when you move your head. If imaging tests show instability, the next step is a referral to a neurosurgeon for possible neck-fusion surgery. If you are scheduled for any other surgery prior to that procedure, Dr. Bhatt recommends you contact your rheumatologist so he can consult with that team. The way your neck is moved during anesthesia can damage an RA-affected joint.
How To Avoid Neck Strain During Sex And Sleep
The natural pain-killing powers of an endorphin rush during sex can actually help your RA. But while youre temporarily feeling less pain, you might push your body past its boundaries. To prevent hyperextending your neck during sex, try to resist the tendency to throw your head forward or back during orgasm. You’ll also want to invest in a good pillow. The right type of pillowask your physical or occupational therapist for a recommendationcan also prevent morning neck stiffness after a good nights rest.
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How Is The Neck Structured
Your neck and back are made up of small bones called vertebrae. These are stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column.
The spinal column supports your head and protects the spinal cord. This is the main structure which links the network of nerves throughout your body. Messages travel along this network sending sensations, such as pain, to your brain.
The top seven bones in the spinal column form your neck, and these are called the cervical vertebrae. The bones are linked together by facet joints. These are small joints between your vertebrae that, together with your neck muscles, allow you to move your head in any direction.
Between the vertebrae are discs of cartilage. The discs act as shock absorbers and give the spine its flexibility. A slipped disc occurs when one of these discs slips slightly out of its natural position in the spine.
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Neck
Surprisingly, many people do not experience any symptoms of arthritis. Those who do, however, may experience the following symptoms:
- numbness or weakness of the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- sensations of grinding or popping while turning the neck
- muscle spasms
- loss of bowel or bladder control
- lack of coordination
- fatigue and/or trouble sleeping
These arthritis symptoms could last for several months or become chronic over time.
With rheumatoid arthritis, you may also experience stiffness in the hands and wrists, particularly in the morning after waking up, Dr. Shah notes.
“Ankylosing spondylitis may affect the back and hips, again with symptoms worse after waking up,” he says.
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Symptoms Of Neck Arthritis
What are the most common Symptoms of Neck Arthritis? Since the neck and shoulder are connected they are sometimes tied together in a neck ache. Here are the most common symptoms of Neck Arthritis:
- Headache or Fever
- Facial Pain
- Feeling Tired or Lethargic
If you are experiencing any of the above cervical arthritis symptoms along with neck pain, then you will want to treat it immediately by using exercises for neck pain, neck arthritis remedies and a natural neck arthritis treatment which are all shown below.
How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
Degenerative Disk Disease: Janâs Story
At 78, Jan Greer wanted to stay active and athletic. Herniated disks, stenosis and other degenerative back problems were causing him unbearable pain. When the pain became too much to bear, he turned to Johns Hopkins.
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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. Youre the one in charge of making sure you take the time to exercise, strengthen, and soothe muscles. At times youll feel challenged, but if you stay determined, youll have the best possible outcome.
New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.
If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
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How Will I Know If I Have Neck Arthritis
Like arthritis in other joints, the main symptoms of neck arthritis are pain and stiffness. These symptoms may get worse when you keep your neck in one position for a long time. For example, you may notice more severe symptoms after holding your neck still while looking up at a movie screen, looking down to read a book, or staring straight ahead to drive long distances.
Your neck consists of the upper part of your spine, also called your cervical spine. It runs from the top of your torso to the base of your skull. If you have neck arthritis, you may notice headaches or pains in your shoulders because your neck connects these areas. Neck muscle are also common, as are popping and grinding sounds.
The bones, or vertebrae, in your neck protect your spinal cord and spinal nerves. With neck arthritis, you can develop pressure on your spinal cord and pinched nerves. If this happens, you may notice weakness and in your arms, hands, legs and feet. This can lead to problems walking and keeping your balance.
You will most likely need a doctor to diagnose you with neck . To diagnose neck arthritis, your doctor may use the following exams and tests:
Complete physical exam
Blood tests and other lab tests
X-rays, MRIs or CT imaging exams
Myelography, which is a special type of X-ray with a dye to look at your spinal canal and your spinal nerves
, which tests for nerve damage or pinched nerves
Your Neck Pain Could Actually Be Neck Arthritis
That achy stiffness youre experiencing might be more than just a pain in the neck. It could actually be cervical spondylosis but the good news is, there are steps you can take to help relieve it.
Here at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Phoenix and Sun City West, Arizona, Drs. Abhishiek Sharma and Erik Curtis, along with our highly trained team, offer personalized neurological care including physical therapy, medication, complementary treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and as a last resort, minimally invasive surgery. Whether you have a spinal condition, chronic pain, epilepsy, neurotrauma, or another issue, we provide a friendly, comfortable environment with physicians and staff who make you a full partner in your care.
Below, wed like to offer you information on neck arthritis what it is, how to know youre at risk, signs to look for, and available treatments.
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What Causes Arthritis
There are over one hundred different kinds of arthritis classified by the root cause and where it affects you. But luckily, we can simplify things by breaking down the disease into two basic categories: inflammatory and noninflammatory arthritis.
Inflammatory arthritis is generally caused by an autoimmune condition. In a healthy immune system, your body produces antibodies in the white blood cells that attack and destroy bacteria and viruses. But when you suffer from an autoimmune condition, your cells instead begin to attack your own tissue, leading to inflammation and damaging the tissue.
The most common form of inflammatory arthritis is just such an autoimmune condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA. RA causes inflammation in the joints. Over time, this inflammation breaks down the cells of the protective lining of the joints, called the synovium. The synovium cushions the joints against the movement of your bones. And when this tissue breaks down, the bones rub against the joints causing pain.
On the other hand, the most common type of noninflammatory arthritis is something called Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the normal wear and tear that your joints are subjected to on a daily basis. Over time, this also breaks down the synovium, which is why your risk of osteoarthritis increases as you get older and when you suffer from conditions like obesity that stress the joints.