Can Arthritis Trigger Upper Neck Pain?

arthritis, upper neck pain

Arthritis or joint inflammation refers to a group of diseases that affect various joints in your body. It is one of the most common health conditions worldwide that often affects people over 40 years old and can be debilitating if left unattended. With the disease affecting joints in the body, typical daily movements and motions like walking, running, writing, or standing becomes extra challenging.   

Despite mainly affecting the shoulders, hands, knees, hips, and feet, it can also cause severe upper neck pain. Sadly, not many people know that arthritis can cause an achy neck. As a result, neck pain relief becomes elusive to these individuals. Does this situation ring a bell? 

Chances are, you are stuck in the same situation, and you aren't familiar with the different types of arthritis and how they can affect individuals. So, we rounded up a few examples in our discussion below to help you understand why you have upper neck pain and what steps you can take to manage your symptom.


How Can Arthritis Affect the Neck

You might be surprised to read the words neck and arthritis side by side. But that is completely understandable because people often associate arthritis with one's hands or knees as the most known and used joints in the body are located in those areas. 

Studies explain that arthritis of the neck is relatively common among Americans. In fact, about 85 percent of individuals who reach 60 years old develop this problem. But how exactly does it happen anyway? Let's look at the neck's anatomy to understand how it works:

  • The neck features seven bones held together by muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and cartilage. 
  • Cartilaginous tissues protect the bones from rubbing against each other. 
  • As we get older, the cartilaginous material weakens, resulting in friction between the bones.
  • The friction manifests as pain that can come and go, depending on your physical activities. 

Studies identify over 100 types of arthritis; some are more common than others, but all cause pain and stiffness in the joints. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and spondylarthritis are the three of the most common types of arthritis that can affect the neck. 


Osteoarthritis is the most commonly reported form of degenerative arthritis. It develops when the protective cartilage between joints breaks down. It can potentially affect various movable joints in the body, including the neck. It results from gradual wear and tear of the joints that connect your bones and causes mild to severe inflammation and pain. 

There's a natural breakdown of cartilage as you age, leading to stiffness, pain, and reduced movement in affected joints. The stiffness increases over time until symptoms become severe enough for people to seek medical attention. Other patients who experience a significant loss of mobility or have a limited range of motion because of their osteoarthritis choose to undergo a surgical procedure to replace the affected joint with an artificial one. 

Rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause excruciating pain and discomfort. Doctors explain that it's an autoimmune disease that sets off the body's inflammatory responses. It can affect a broad spectrum of individuals, but it's most common in adults aged 30 to 50. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, warmth, swelling, and loss of function in your joints. 


Spondylarthritis refers to a group of chronic inflammatory disorders that affect the spine, pelvis, hips, rib cage, and other joints. They can also affect the nervous system. There are several types of spondyloarthritis: 

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS). 

This type of spondyloarthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in some joints in your body, such as your spine and sacroiliac joints (SIJs). Notably, this condition can cause you pain and stiffness throughout your body but most often affects the lower back (low back pain) or neck region (upper neck pain). You may also have pain in your hips or shoulders from this condition if it's affecting them too!  

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA). 

PsA occurs when psoriasis affects other areas besides just the skin. According to studies, PsA also affects connective tissues such as the joints or tendons. PsA causes symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis. However, they're not as severe since they rarely cause inflammation within blood vessels.

upper neck pain






Non-Arthritis Conditions That Causes Neck Pain 

  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Disc diseases 
  • Cervical spondylosis 
  • Cervical radiculopathy (nerve impingement) 

These conditions can trigger neck pain as one of their symptoms. So, it may be worthwhile to look into these conditions and learn about their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 

For example, fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that affects the muscles and soft tissues in your body; cervical spondylosis is a degenerative condition that can cause stiffness in the neck; cervical radiculopathy results when one or more of your spinal nerves become compressed by bone or other tissue. 

Don't hesitate to ask about these conditions when seeking medical assistance or consulting an upper cervical chiropractic doctor.


Chiropractic Care for Upper Neck Pain Relief

Now that you are familiar with arthritis-related neck pain causes, you're one step closer to finding a suitable remedy to use. Chances are, you have already researched the different upper neck pain relief options. Have you, by chance, come across upper cervical chiropractic? If not, then let's help you understand how it might help you with your painful symptom.

Upper cervical care is a safe, effective natural remedy for neck pain caused by injury, illness, or a condition. If you are experiencing frequent upper neck pain or stiffness in your upper cervical region, it may be time to schedule a visit with a chiropractor. 

A chiropractor will perform an evaluation, a physical exam, and x-ray scans of the cervical spine. This will help address cervical bone misalignments that may be contributing to the pain and discomfort caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or spondylarthritis. 

If you have more questions about how neck bone adjustments can help relieve your pain, we recommend getting in touch with an upper cervical doctor near you. Kindly visit the Upper Cervical Awareness Doctors' Portal for the list of licensed upper cervical chiropractors in the country.


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.