What Does It Feel Like When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis In Your Neck?

If you're someone living with some form of arthritis, you're not alone. Over 54 million Americans have reported experiencing arthritis, according to a 2015 study conducted by the American College of Rheumatology.

While joint swelling and stiffness are common symptoms, not all types of arthritis are the same. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website breaks out arthritis into six basic types, including osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type and is inherently different from rheumatoid arthritis in that osteoarthritis is the result of your bone joint cartilage wearing down, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, per University of Michigan Health. The experts at the University of Michigan explain that an autoimmune disease is when your body incorrectly identifies your own healthy tissues as foreign invaders and, as a result, your immune system attacks your body, leading to inflammation. Additionally, osteoarthritis typically impacts one isolated joint at a time, while rheumatoid arthritis commonly attacks multiple joints at once.

People who have rheumatoid arthritis may experience specific symptoms, including fever, anemia, fatigue, and inflammation of blood vessels. Additionally, those with rheumatoid arthritis will often have inflammation on symmetrical sides of the body. So, for example, the disease will affect both hands, both ankles, both knees, and so on. Also, rheumatoid arthritis tends to occur more commonly in women compared to men, though researchers need to conduct more studies to understand why this is the case, per Arthritis Foundation.

Rheumatoid arthritis in your neck: Symptoms and managment

While rheumatoid arthritis is more common in your legs and hands, the condition can also spread to your neck, causing inflammation, or synovitis, in the joint between your first (C1) and second (C2) vertebrae, according to the experts at Healthline. However, rheumatoid arthritis rarely spreads at the onset of the disease, but rather years later. Your C1 and C2 vertebrae are vital in your ability to hold up your head and turn your neck, and so if rheumatoid arthritis does end up spreading to your neck this can put you at risk of damaging your nerves and spinal cord.

Along with difficulty with neck movement, pain will be the main symptom that you have rheumatoid arthritis in your neck. The severity of the pain can range from a throbbing sensation in the back of your skull to other discomforts such as headaches, dizziness from spinal cord compression, and numbness and tingling, per Healthline.

There is no treatment yet for rheumatoid arthritis, but there are ways you can manage the condition, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to slow the progression of the disease, and other types of medical products that can help prevent attacks of the immune system on the body. Alternative treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy, as well as regular exercise, better neck pillow support, and other self-care practices may also provide some relief, per MedicalNewsToday.