Neck (cervical spine) symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis

When rheumatoid arthritis affects the neck joints, particularly those located at the top of the spine, spinal cord complications can occur.

  • Bones and joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis may dislocate and press on the spinal cord.
  • Pressure can cause numbness, pain, tingling, weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, and unusual head and neck sensations.
  • Pressure may also obstruct blood flow through the blood vessels in the spinal cord.

Neck pain along with weakness, numbness, or tingling of hands, feet, legs, or arms is the most common symptom of possible pressure on the spinal cord. Although compression of the spinal cord is fairly rare, if untreated it can lead to paralysis.

Last Updated: August 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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