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Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition in which the joints and surrounding tissues become inflamed and often painful. Rheumatoid arthritis of the neck can be particularly troublesome due to the fact that the affected joints are in the spinal column. Damage to the spine is a common occurrence with this type of arthritis. Treatment typically consists of medication, supportive devices, and surgical intervention.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the neck frequently causes pressure to the spinal cord due to the inflammation, or swelling, of the joints in the upper spinal column, or neck region. This pressure can cause discomfort or even extreme pain. Dislocated bones or joints may also occur as a result of this type of arthritis. Numbness and tingling or problems with bladder or bowel control are possible symptoms as well. If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to partial or complete paralysis.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the neck is typically treated by a specialist known as a rheumatologist. There are new medications being developed on a regular basis to treat various arthritic conditions, and these specialists will be well-versed in these as well as existing medications. Prescription medications are often enough to relieve the pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis of the neck.
Supportive devices can often help relieve some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the neck. For instance, a medical professional may determine that it is necessary to temporarily limit neck movement in order to relieve pain and prevent damage to the spine. In this case, the use of a neck brace may be recommended. This brace should be worn as prescribed by the physician.
Frequent x-rays are commonly recommended once a patient has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis of the neck. This type of testing will generally reveal any spinal instability before it has a chance to cause something as severe as paralysis. Once spinal instability has been identified, surgical intervention often becomes necessary. The most common type of surgery is a procedure in which the cervical vertebrae found in the neck region of the body are stabilized and held in their proper position. The down side to this procedure is that neck movements often become limited due to the stabilization surgery.
Bone fusion is another type of surgical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of the neck. In this procedure, the vertebrae are fused together so that new bone tissue can grow. A bone graft is often taken from the hip and transplanted to the affected area. Wires are generally used in order to hold the bones together. This procedure relieves the pressure on the spine and often prevents further spinal damage.
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