Rheumatoid arthritis in the spine

The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis in the spine are still not well understood. This type of arthritis is considered incurable, though not untreatable. The condition is known to be an autoimmune disease that attacks joint tissue, and affects women much more frequently than men. 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 can often be managed through many of the same nonsurgical techniques prescribed for people with 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 can be prescribed by your physician. Patients have also found some relief in physical therapy, chiropractic care and even alternative medicine. If this type of conservative treatment proves ineffective, surgery could become an option.

Traditionally, treatment of spinal rheumatoid arthritis has been approached with fusion of the affected vertebrae or the installation of rods or screws to hold the spinal structure in place. A large incision is required to access the vertebrae, disturbing the muscles and other soft tissue. This kind of open-back surgery can be risky and requires a long recovery period. In some cases, the stress created by traditional open neck and back surgery can actually worsen the condition.

Laser Spine Institute offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery that offers many advantages, including lower risk of infection. By sparing the surrounding muscles and tissue from being cut or torn, our outpatient procedures can help you find relief from neck and back pain without the added risk of traditional open neck and back surgery. Find out why we have a patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^ Our Care Team is standing by to help start you on your journey to relief from rheumatoid arthritis in the spine.

Call now for your MRI review to see if you are a candidate for surgery at Laser Spine Institute.