The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis in the spine are still not well understood. This type of arthritis is considered incurable. However, this condition is known to be an autoimmune disease that attacks joint tissue and affects women much more frequently than men. Furthermore, it occurs often within the cervical spine, the neck region at the top of the spinal column that supports the head.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the spine include:
- Persistent or occasional pain within the joints, which might also feel warm
- Trouble walking, or an unexplained change in your gait
- Weakness or a loss of coordination
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands or legs
- Prolonged stiffness in the spinal joints
- Gradual change in the shape of the spine
While rheumatoid arthritis has no known cure, its symptoms may often be managed through many of the same non-surgical techniques prescribed for sufferers of osteoarthritis of the spine or other conditions that lead to spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal). Exercise and over-the-counter pain medicine may be prescribed by your doctor. If non-surgical treatment proves ineffective, surgery may become an option.
Traditionally, treatment of spinal rheumatoid arthritis has been approached with fusion of the effected vertebrae or the installation of rods or screws to hold the spinal structure in place. This kind of open-back surgery can be risky and requires a long recovery period. The stress created by open spinal surgery may actually worsen the condition.
The award-winning surgeons at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) may help you rediscover life by using a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. Contact the medical professionals of LSI today to learn more about rheumatoid arthritis in the spine or to receive a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.