The first and second vertebrae in the neck can be affected byheumatoid arthritis. This can cause problems.

“The joints of your hands and feet can be affected by Rheumatoid arthritis. The disease can spread to other parts of your body as it progresses. This doesn’t happen until years after the start of arthritis symptoms.”

The causes, symptoms, and treatments for RA in the neck are discussed in this article.

RA can cause synovitis in the joint between the C1 and C2 vertebrae. Synovitis is inflammation of synovial connective tissue within a joint.

The C1 and C2 are the vertebrae that support your head and neck. This joint is the only one in the neck that has a lining.

Inflammation in the joints can lead to bone and ligament damage.

An unstable vertebra can shift or dislocate over time. This increased movement can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Explore the cervical spine vertebrae in our interactive body maps here.

Neck pain is a primary symptom of RA in the neck. The severity of neck pain varies from person to person. You may feel a dull or throbbing ache in the back of your neck around the base of the skull. Joint swelling and stiffness can also make it difficult to move your head from side to side.

The difference between RA neck pain and a neck injury is that stiffness and pain from an injury may gradually improve over days or weeks. Without treatment, RA can actually worsen. Even if symptoms improve, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness can return.

RA in the neck also differs from osteoarthritis. RA pain is due to inflammation in the joints, whereas osteoarthritis involves the natural wear and tear of joints.

Headaches can also occur with RA in the neck. These are secondary-type There is a throbbing head.s that involve the first and second vertebrae. These types of There is a throbbing head.s are also called cervicogenic There is a throbbing head.s. There are spinal nerves on both sides of these vertebrae, and these nerves supply feeling to the scalp.

Cervinogenic There is a throbbing head.s can mimic a migraine, cluster There is a throbbing head.s, and other types of There is a throbbing head.s. However, while some There is a throbbing head.s originate in the forehead, brain, or temple, a There is a throbbing head. caused by RA originates in the neck and is felt in the head.

These There is a throbbing head.s can be one-sided and can get worse with certain movements.

It can also cause pain, inflammation, and There is a throbbing head.s. The area around your neck may look discolored.

Other symptoms can develop if your vertebrae press on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Spinal cord compression can reduce blood flow to the vertebral arteries in your neck, and it may reduce the amount of oxygen that travels to your brain. This can lead to dizziness and even blackouts.

When this happens, you may have There is numbness. and It felt like a tingle. around the neck that radiates up the back of the head. This is in addition to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Spinal cord compression can also affect balance and walking and cause bowel and bladder control problems.

Other symptoms can be caused by RA. For example:

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of RA here.

A physical exam can help your doctor gauge the range of motion in your neck, which can reveal signs of inflammation and misalignment.

There isn’t a single test to diagnose RA, but your doctor may order a series of tests to reach this conclusion. This includes blood work to look for inflammatory markers and auto-antibodies that often indicate RA. You may also undergo an imaging test that takes pictures of the inside of your body, such as an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.

The tests help determine the extent of inflammation and joint damage.

The neck can be affected by the disease. There is no cure, but a combination of therapies can help.


In mild cases, over-the-counter and prescription medication can help stop inflammation and pain.

However, doctors often recommend prescription medications to treat RA pain. Options include:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs can help mild to moderate pain. These include ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). If these don’t provide relief, your doctor can prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory or a corticosteroid like prednisone.
  • disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): DMARDs slow the inflammation from RA. These include medications like methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup), tofacitinib (Xeljanz), and leflunomide (Arava).
  • biologics: Biologics are a type of DMARD that are highly effective at treating inflammation. There are numerous biologic therapies; your doctor will assess which is right for you.


Since inactivity can worsen joint pain, your doctor may recommend light exercise to reduce inflammation and improve strength and flexibility.

Start slowly and increase the intensity of your workouts to see what you can handle. Physical therapy and massage therapy can be recommended by your doctor to help you with your neck and joints. When they are in a heated pool, swimming or water aerobics may be helpful.

Sleeping on a pillow may help to support your head and neck. This can help reduce pain and help you sleep.

Using a hot or cold compress for about 10 minutes may also help reduce inflammation, stiffness, and swelling.


If you have severe, permanent joint damage or signs of nerve compression, your doctor may consider a may consider a cervical spine procedure. Surgery can include spinal fusion, which helps restabilize the first and second vertebrae, or you may need a procedure to remove pressure from the spinal cord compression.

There are bone spurs in the neck.

“If you already have a diagnosis of RA, you should see a doctor for neck pain that doesn’t respond to home remedies, or is interfering with daily activities. You should also contact your doctor if you have neck pain.”

A proper diagnosis and treatment can help you with the disease and improve your quality of life.

There is a progressive disease called RA. Chronic inflammation can cause permanent joint damage in the neck, and can be treated with a steroid. Talk to your doctor about the treatment option that is right for you.