In patients diagnosed with spinal rheumatoid arthritis, the cervical spine (or neck) is a common site of disease symptoms. It is not clear why it affects the upper spine more often than the lumbar (lower) spine, nor are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis well understood. What is known is that rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine attacks the lining of joints, is diagnosed in women more frequently than men, and has no cure.
The condition 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 typically can be managed through many of the same non-surgical treatments used to manage the pain of osteoarthritis. These include:
- Exercise to strengthen the neck muscles
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine
- Anti-inflammatory injections
- Chiropractic 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 (LSI). Contact the medical professionals at LSI for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to find out how our award-winning surgeons may help you rediscover life through treatment of boney spurring typical of cervical rheumatoid arthritis.