top of page

(Dys)Functional Fridays

Today we are discussing Cervical Rheumatoid Arthritis for our dysfunction of the week. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints. An overactive immune system causes an inflammatory response, resulting in symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and stiffness. It can start in the smaller joints of your hands and feet however, it can spread to other parts of your body like the neck. Fortunately, this doesn’t typically happen until years after the onset of arthritis symptoms.

Chronic inflammation in the neck causes the destruction of the synovial joints, which are the joints that allow movement. When arthritis damages this joint in the neck and the cervical spine can become unstable. Vertebrae are small bones that form the backbone. There are seven vertebrae in the cervical spine, and rheumatoid arthritis typically affects the first and second, called the atlas and axis. The atlas supports the weight of your head and the axis helps your neck move in different directions.

An unstable vertebra can shift or dislocate over time and eventually press on the spinal cord and nerve roots. When this happens, you may have numbness and tingling around the neck that radiates up the back of the head. This is in addition to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. In extreme cases it can compress the spinal cord and brain stem, which can lead to paralysis or even death if the neck is moved in certain positions.

Rheumatoid arthritis pain is due to inflammation in the joints, whereas osteoarthritis involves the natural wear and tear of joints.The disease causes morning joint stiffness that can last one to two hours or the whole day. It generally improves with movement of the joints. Other signs and symptoms include loss of energy, low fevers, loss of appetite, and lumps in the elbows and hands, called rheumatoid nodules.

Since inactivity can worsen joint pain, your doctor may recommend light exercise o reduce inflammation and improve strength and flexibility. This can include activities that don’t involve a lot of neck movement such as walking or biking. Start off slow and gradually increase the intensity of workouts to determine what you can handle. Your doctor may also recommend massage therapy to reduce stiffness and pain in the joints around your neck, or physical therapy to improve range of motion. Swimming or water aerobics may also be helpful for RA, especially when they’re in a heated pool.

Sleeping on a therapeutic pillow may provide your neck and head with better support. Keep your neck in proper alignment while sleeping, helping reduce pain, and stiffness by sleeping on a therapeutic pillow which will provide your neck with better support. If you are experiencing symptoms in the morning or throughout the day, using a hot or cold compress for about 10 minutes may also help reduce inflammation, stiffness, and swelling.

I hope you have found something of interest in this article, the body is a fascinating thing and it’s always fun to learn something new every day! Catch you here next Friday 


Amber Green



Works Cited

Rheumatoid Arthritis of The Cervical Spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Neck: What to Know.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page