Many things become a pain in the neck when dealing with a chronic pain disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I am not going to get into dealing with insurance, doctors, pharmacies or people that do not understand at the moment. I want to talk about the physical pain, stiffness and weakness in my neck. This is not supposed to be Rheumatoid Arthritis according many of the Rheumatologist and medical websites. I just cannot understand how a person’s shoulders and hips can weaken so much that the joint cannot take the weight and the spine is not an issue? How is that logical? Really I need to understand how it would be logical to a doctor that the spine of a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient is not affected and does not need to be monitored? If the joints are weak then what part of the body takes on the weight? The spine right? Not that I believe that RA does not attack the spine. I can feel it there just as much as I feel it in my joints, muscles, ear, throat, eyes and the rest of my body.
Lately I have had less pain, stiffness and weakness in my neck, but it still hits me when it rains or if I hold my purse too long. Just like when I stand too long on my feet. The amount of time I can stand without pain in my feet or holding my purse is longer than a few months ago, but I still have limits. I have noticed that when my neck is in pain or feels very weak, I do get dizzy spells. I always thought it was the drugs but recently noticed it happens when the neck is stressed, like after sitting without any back support. Just like the inside of my nose swelling up, the choking, breathing issues, pressure headaches all seem to hit when my neck is stiff or weak. I still find it funny that one night I was able to find a position for my head/neck that made the swelling in my nose and other symptoms cease. I usually struggle to find a position to relieve the pain, just never notice until that night that it relieved other symptoms as well.
My last visit to my doctor I was informed that my neck x-rays showed issues with C-2 and C-3, one disc is thinning and the other has slipped just a little into my spine and the curve of my neck is now opposite of what it should be. I guess damage from the last 2 years of flares in my shoulders; I do have imaging that shows my neck was fine in January of 2010. So I started looking for more information on neck issues with other Rheumatoid Arthritis patients and found this Basilar Invagination on RA Warrior. The doctor had told me at my last visit not to worry my neck is still fine and it is C-1 that is when you have issues because it can cause brain stem compression. Well my younger sister has complained about pain there so I was a little upset and did not ask any questions. But after reading the article and following through on the link to Cedars-Sinai on Basilar Invagination which is where I see my doctor, I decided to give her a call. From the little I understand Basilar Invagination it can happen when there are issues with C-2. Unfortunately when I called and questioned her about it, she chuckled and said the x-rays show I am fine. I tried to mention to her the symptoms seem to match some of the things I go through, especially when my neck feels weak but could not get much out because she is sure from the X-rays that I am fine. Any patients that are dealing with stiff neck, pain in the neck and what I can describe as extreme weakness in the neck, what are you doing for it? What tools do you use to help relieve some of the symptoms? I would appreciate any suggestions you have. Continue reading