Cervical rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that typically affects the joints in your body and causes swelling and inflammation at the site of the joints. While this condition is painful, rheumatoid arthritis in the cervical spine can be particularly painful if a surrounding nerve root is impacted by the swelling joint.

This condition can sometimes affect the vertebrae and joints in the cervical spine (neck), causing severe pain and limited mobility. The nerve roots in the cervical spine transmit sensory messages between the brain, shoulder, arm and hand. If one of these nerves becomes compressed, the result could be shooting pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the associated extremities. To learn about the cause of this condition and the treatments available for relief, read the following article.

Cause of rheumatoid arthritis in the cervical spine

It is not exactly clear why this condition affects the upper spine more frequently than the lumbar (lower) spine. In fact, the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are still not 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 it 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 spinal curvature or partial paralysis.

Treatments to help reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in the cervical spine

Even though there is no cure, the symptoms of this condition typically can be managed in the early stages through many of the same nonsurgical treatments used to manage the pain of osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Low-impact exercise to strengthen the neck muscles
  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy

If chronic pain and other spinal arthritis symptoms persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may be suggested as a treatment option. To avoid highly invasive open spine surgery, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures offer a shorter recovery time and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery as well as a patient satisfaction score of 98.^

We encourage you to discuss your rheumatoid arthritis, the impact it has had on your cervical spine and the minimally invasive procedures we have to help you with our spine care experts. Reach out to our dedicated team for more information today. Through a free MRI review,* we can determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery and guide you on your journey to wellness.