Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the white blood cells normally responsible for fighting disease and infection mistakenly target healthy tissue in the joints in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful joint inflammation making the affected joints swollen and stiff. If the disease is not effectively treated, surrounding bones and cartilage may be destroyed and areas beyond the joints may be affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the upper (cervical) spine is common and can be particularly troubling. This inflammatory arthritis can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, making it difficult to turn the head. The most dangerous consequence of cervical spine rheumatoid arthritis is that the disease may cause the vertebra to become misaligned, a pathological process called subluxation. Cervical subluxation can lead to spinal cord compression, which causes problems with sensation, muscle weakness, problems with breathing, and in rare cases, death.
The professionals at Progressive Spine & Orthopaedics, have extensive experience treating rheumatoid arthritis of the spine. It is our goal to create a treatment regimen that is specific to each patient. The treatment plan may include medication to manage the pain, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and anti-inflammatories along with directed physical therapy. If a patient has cervical subluxation, surgery to stabilize the spine is an important and likely essential part of treatment. Dr. Rovner at Progressive Spine & Orthopaedics specializes in these forms of spine stabilization surgery.