In patients who are diagnosed with spinal rheumatoid arthritis, the cervical spine (or neck) is a common place for symptoms to occur. It is not exactly clear why this condition affects the upper spine more frequently than the lumbar (lower) spine, nor are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis well understood. What is acknowledged, however, is that rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine attacks the lining of joints, is diagnosed in women more frequently than men and has no known cure.
Spinal rheumatoid arthritis is sometimes mistaken for osteoarthritis of the spine or degenerative disc disease, because the symptoms can be similar. However, in addition to stiffness, pain and joint swelling, sufferers of rheumatic arthritis in the cervical spine may experience progressive, crippling spinal curvature or partial paralysis. Even though there is no cure, the symptoms of this condition typically can be managed in the early stages through many of the same non-surgical treatments used to manage the pain of osteoarthritis. These include:
- Exercise to strengthen the neck muscles
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine
- Chiropractic therapy
- Anti-inflammatory injections
- Physical therapy
If chronic pain and other spine arthritis symptoms persist after months of conservative treatment, surgery may be suggested as a treatment option. To avoid highly invasive open-spinal surgery, consider a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute. Contact the medical professionals at Laser Spine Institute for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to find out how our surgeons may help you find relief from the discomfort caused by bone spurring typical of cervical rheumatoid arthritis.