Rheumatoid (room-a-toyd) arthritis or RA is a disease that affects all of the synovial (sin-o-vee-al) joints in the body including the spine. For people with RA, the effects of the arthritis on the spine can vary from minimal symptoms to life-threatening pressure on the spinal cord that requires complicated surgery to stabilize the spine and reduce the pressure on the spinal cord.
- How does rheumatoid arthritis cause back and neck pain?
- What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
- How is rheumatoid arthritis treated?
RA destroys synovial joints. As the joints are destroyed, the connection between each vertebra becomes unstable. The damage allows the upper vertebra to slide forward on top of the lower vertebra in the joint. This slippage is called spondylolisthesis (spon-dil-low-liss-the-sis). Spondolisthesis can cause pain due to pressure applied by the slipped vertebra on the nerve roots and the spinal cord. The problem of joint instability is very serious when it occurs between the C1 and C2 vertebrae in the cervical spine.
RA in the for 1 last update 2020/07/07 spine causes a wide range of symptoms. RA in the spine causes a wide range of symptoms.
- Pain. Pain is the earliest symptom and may be part of the overall joint inflammation that occurs with the arthritis. Pain at the base of the skull is common when the cervical spine is affected by RA, and can indicate that the nerves that exit the skull and the upper spine are being irritated or compressed.
- Blackout spells. Pressure on the vertebral arteries can lead to blackout spells. The blood flow through these arteries is reduced when you move your head and neck a certain way.
- Changes in walking. A change in the ability to walk can signal increasing pressure on your spinal cord. The way you walk may become irregular. You may experience weakness and problems keeping your balance. This is an indication that your spinal cord is being compressed. Notify your doctor if you notice any change in your ability to walk normally.
- Tingling, weakness or loss of coordination. Feelings of tingling, weakness, or a loss of coordination can affect the arms or legs.
- Changes in bowel or bladder control. Changes in bowel or bladder control such as incontinence or inability to urinate.
How is rheumatoid arthritis treated?
x rays of hip osteoarthritishow to x rays of hip osteoarthritis for Most people with rheumatoid arthritis do not require surgery. For people with rheumatoid arthritis, the effects of arthritis on the spine can vary from minimal symptoms to life threatening pressure on the spinal cord requiring complicated surgery to stabilize the spinal cord and reduce the pressure on the spinal cord.
The Polyclinic spine surgery believes in providing the least invasive services and procedures to treat each patient’s rheumatoid arthritis individually. We advise patients work first with their primary care physician to implement nonsurgical options as appropriate. Patient referrals from primary care providers are welcome after trying appropriate nonsurgical options.
Surgery may be the best option if you are still not experiencing relief. Our spine surgeon has the experience and expertise to address even the most challenging surgical cases, assisting rheumatoid arthritis patients who have not found help elsewhere.
Surgery may also be an option to treat cervical rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Surgery may be recommended for patients who have nerve problems caused by the effects of RA. For example, inflammation and changes in the joints can affect the surrounding nerves.
Certain surgical procedures decompress the spinal cord, removing pressure and stabilizing the spine. The orthopedic spine surgeon makes recommendations based on many variables, including the specifics of your condition.
x rays of hip osteoarthritishow to x rays of hip osteoarthritis for Rheumatoid Arthritis at The Polyclinic
x rays of hip osteoarthritishow to x rays of hip osteoarthritis for Should surgery be advised to address these spinal issues, your rheumatoid arthritis care will be led by a board certified orthopedic spine surgeon, providing the latest in intraoperative imaging technology, state of the art facilities and minimally invasive spine and back surgery.
Sean Keem, MD, with more than 17 years of spine surgery experience, works closely with onsite neurologists, pain management experts and physical therapists to ensure your quick and complete recovery.
Contact the Spine Program at 206-860-5383 to make an appointment or for more information.