Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Includes Expert Content
Arthritis in Neck
avatar
GerryVicki posted:
From everything that I have read, arthritis in the neck is considered to be RA. My blood tests have come back negative for RA, so I am really confused; Is arthritis in the neck RA or not?
Reply
 
avatar
Scott Zashin, MD responded:
The most common cause of neck pain is muscular or osteoarthritis RA patients with neck pain tend to have prolonged AM stiffness in the neck for at least 45 minutes. Those without RA tend to find their pain is worse with activity and improved with rest.
 
avatar
CAMMSNNP responded:
Actually, osteoarthritis is the most common type of neck area arthritis. I have arthritis of several areas which were work related injuries incurred as an RN in a hospital setting. Note: there are more types of arthritis than rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

You should be aware that the amount of damage on x-rays, and the amount of pain felt have no correlation at all. For osteoarthritis, usually there is a precipitating trauma, which may not be remembered by the time the pain sets in in your neck. Arthritis is not present immediately after a trauma. You may notice bad function of the area post trauma, especially with the neck in certain positions, or under a load of extra weight such as carrying things.

In the neck, there are ligaments that hold the spinal column in alignment with each other. There are also supporting muscles. If either of these are injured (tears or over stretching), the body on its own will start compensating using other areas to stabilize the damaged area, which can lead to spasmed muscles (frequently on the opposite side of what is damaged), which is also painful. The cushioning discs can become distorted and improperly positioned due to the spasmed muscles, so that instead of being centered between the vertebra, they now protrude, and can cause pressure on the nerves that exit the spinal column. They can also protrude backwards and compress the spinal cord. Each of these pains are distinct in how they feel.

Additionally, the spasmed muscles can distort the spinal column such that the facet joints or articulating surfaces between joints now are in closer proximity and occasionally rub. When this has occurred to the point that the cartilage has been worn off (repeated rubbing), then bone rubs against bone (grating noise), and the body will reinforce the facets (bone projection posterior and to the side of the vertebra body) that are damaged with more calcium, etc. which forms the bony spurs of arthritis. These sharp spurs can cause direct pain, or damage the nerves like a knife rubbing against soft tissue. The facets when they increase with bony deposits, narrow the area where nerves exit the spinal column, which over time can impinge on nerve functioning and increase pain.

Radiation pain of irritated nerves can result in abnormal sensations of pain that may radiate down your arms, or up to your skull or possibly your upper back. These generally follow a dermatomal pattern which can help identify which vertebra is causing the problem. Google for images, dermatome and review the map. Consider following up with an orthopedic doctor if you have not already. Frequently, the treatment for osteoarthritis is NSAIDs (Aleeve, Motrin and stronger), anti spasmodic medications (Flexeril, Soma), and narcotics when the pain becomes more than these other medications can help with. Physical therapy to keep muscles as active and strong as possible may slow the progression.
 
avatar
dipudtt responded:
well I am sufferinf from RA for the last 3 years now. I first got a frozen shoulder in 2006 then the doctor advised some exercise which i use to do regularly and the pain vanished, thereafter i had severe pain again in the neck and upon doing scan it was noticed that two disc on 5&7th in the spine had prolapsed for which i had to undergo an operation in 2009, the pain from the neck reduced very fast but later it gave rise to severe joint pains in my entire body. When i did my tests for RA figures were mind blowing as my anti bodies had risen upto 300.
What I mean to say is sometimes even when we do certain tests we are not able to detect the same but i am convinced that due to RA i had to undergo a surgery of my neck. Since it attacks all joints one has to be careful. Today I am under treatment and 90 percent ok and cured but that 10 percent is very disturbing, as due to this ailment one goes into a depression and it is then the RA triggers very fast. I live a healthy life style i do daily exercise, drink a lot of water, avoid alcohol as these medicines damage your liver and kidneys unknowingly. I have an oil free food which is mostly boiled in nature, have lot of fruits and salads, avoid the seeds in cucumber, avoid lemon or any sour fruits as it triggers attacks, red meat as much as possible. I am sure if I can come out anyone can....good luck be brave face it with a smile RA will go.
Deepak.
 
avatar
rworden273 responded:
I have RA and I have a great deal of pain in my neck/jaw and my blood tests were all negative too for RA. The only thing that my blood test showes was a very high level of inflammation. I have pain/stiffness/swelling in my ankles too.


Featuring Experts

Scott Zashin, MD is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and maintains a private practice at Presb...More

Health Insurance in Your State

Learn about plans, benefits, and costs in your state's Marketplace.

From WebMD

Helpful Tips

help with methotrexate side effectsExpert
I recommend all my patients on methotrexate take at least 1 mg of Folic Acid daily to help decrease the risk of side effects. In those ... More
Was this Helpful?
25 of 28 found this helpful

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.