RA and the neck

RA and the neck

I'm almost certain that my neck is being/has been affected by RA. I was only saying today that this is a new symptom for me but then, I was reading back some potsts when I first joined an arthritis forum and the neck was one of the first placed I noticed a problem.

Rheum nurse said that RA doesn't affect the neck but she also said it doesn't affect the SI joints and a scan showed inflammation! I did some research but I can't seem to figure out how common it is, so I'm interested to hear about other people's experiences. How do you manage the pain and the impact it has on your day-to-day life, if it does at all?

Thanks in advance. :)

14 Replies

  • Certainly affects my neck! I see a chiropractor fairly regularly. The actual inflammation may be elsewhere, but the pain can still be in my neck, and is often muscular, ie tight, tender muscles, reacting to the problem lower down in my spine.

  • I have severe pain in my neck and shoulder joints, and it's definitely from RD. Confirmed by xray /scan. I also have a swelling at the bottom of my neck at the front.....like an egg. Aparently there is a tiny joint there, and the swelling is inflammation, again confirmed by ultrasound. It feels hard to touch.

    This pain has got progressively worse, as it has become obvious that humira is not working for me any more, and I have an appt next Tuesday to discuss where I go from here. This is my 3rd biologic.

    Feeling really despondent, in a flare, and trying to look after my sick husband.

    I've often heard people say this type of pain can't be R D, but I think it just isn't supported by peoples' experience, or clinical research.

    B t w, the one thing that helps me is lidocaine patches, which you place over the affected area for 12 hours overnight. They are however expensive, so I only use them when the pain is unbearable. They were presribed by my consultant who said recent research had found them to be effective.

    Hope you get some relief soon

    Mavis x

  • Hi crashdoll,

    Although it is most common in hands and feet, RA can affect any of the synovial joints in the body, causing inflammation, and you can find synovial joints in both the neck and back.

    I'm sure there will be lots of offer of help and tips for living day to day with RA from the HU community on here but do also have a look on our website nras.org.uk as there is lots of information on there too nras.org.uk/living-with-ra

    Kind regards


  • I get neck pain during a flare and use a collar to help manage it. I started Ritiximab biologic infusions back in Sept 2015 and since this started working in Nov 2015 I have had little or no trouble with my neck. My mother was diagosed back in 1970 and had severe problems with her neck even had it in her jaws. Unfortunately she died in 2002 before all the new treatments were available. She was 80 years old and suffered terribly :(

  • I have psa and ankylosing spondylitis and my neck can be very painful. it is much worse if I sit for long or when I am driving, it has progressively got worse over time. The only thing that helps is acupuncture. I have trouble moving my head too, really struggle at the hairdressers with the backwash. when really bad, the pain travels up the back of my head and at times it can be agonising. Heat helps but cannot use the wheat-filled heat bags because they are too heavy and make my neck worse. I am on Mtx and Embrel. Acupuncture is definately worth a try. Hope this all helps.

  • RD started in my neck, I have had physio and acupuncture which helps. I also use a warm wheat bag. When it is really bad I am unable to drive as I cannot turn my head far enough to check the road is clear. I also have impingement of nerves in my shoulder so no doubt this makes it worse too.

    Sue X

  • I've been having constant pain in my neck and shoulders and shooting pains in my head. Had spine x ray and waiting for results. Don't know what can be done about it though. Never found physio much use and chiroprctor not available here on NHS. Might have to find the money to go anyway.

  • Interesting I was told that SI joints not affected by R A so may have to change diagnosis.

    The heat patches that you can stick on to clothes near the pain are soothing. I got two in a pack for a pound. Boots etc are a lot more expensive. Do hope it settles.

  • Oh yes it does affect the neck - I had life-threatening spinal cord compression requiring decompression and fixation C3-C6 in 2002. Don't let any medic tell you it doesn't affect the neck!

  • I am delighted to find some reassurance that I am not going daft with my neck. I have RA, OA and osteoporosis. My neck at present is bulging at the back and I get spurious pains in the head on the left side not all the time and worried about that in case it is head haemorrhage etc. Always think the worst and had it for sometime on and off. MRI two years ago showed nothing. I too get shooting pains in the muscles and looking forward to another massage today. Dawn has been doing me now for over 17 years so knows me well. I am glad of my DLA as it pays for this. As I have said so many times on this forum I cannot have any painkillers cos of allergies. In some ways it is good as I don't have side effects like my mother had at 80 with asthma. But sometimes I could scream for one. Often my neck dislocates and then is agonising and then clicks back. Horrid. One of my allergies is salicylates and my blood is very thin and another reason for no painkillers. Always has been since I was born.

  • I have wear & tear arthritis in C5 & C6 neck joints. Physio, painkillers & rest are all I can do

  • Yep I have neck pain and swelling, no one really listens BUT I know it has been since I started with RA 3 years ago.

  • How strange I was just going to post a similar question about my neck. For the last few days it is achy and stiff, makes me feel like my head weighs a tonne!!

    It also seems to spread to my should blades.

    I'm finding it's making me feel very strange, kind of dreamy and very tired.

    Been using a wheat bag and tried Ice last night before bed, surprisingly slept well but woke up exactly the same again 😔

    Does this sound anything like u?

  • Thank you for all the replies, although sorry others are struggling with similar symptoms.

    Sorry I can't reply individually, it's difficult to type at the moment.

    GP was worried by exacerbation of nerve symptoms and has referred for an urgent MRI scan. It's been booked for Friday. Good old NHS, eh? Fingers crossed that it's "only" soft tissue and not bone.

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