Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Possible Reasons Why You Have Neck Pain

rheumatoid arthritis, upper neck pain

Complaints about upper neck pain, or generalized neck pain is very common, especially in adults. In fact, once a year, there's an estimated 1 out of 3 people get affected by this health concern. Some may be harmless and superficial and go away on their own. It is rarely life-threatening. But in some cases, it becomes a recurring pain and might cause concern. Others may even require medical attention.

There are several reasons why neck pain happens, and the reason behind it usually differs for every person. Sometimes the cause may be rooting from the spine, or it could be a referred pain. Overextending the neck can sometimes trigger pain too. Additionally, autoimmune diseases may cause pain in the neck, too, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Explained

RA is an autoimmune condition causing inflammation of the joints that can start in the smaller joints of your hands and feet. This disease can progress and spread to other parts of your body, including the neck, which can happen years after the onset of arthritis symptoms.

The Connection Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Neck Pain

Once the disease progresses and reaches the neck area, it usually affects the top two bones of your spine located in the neck, which can cause upper neck pain, stiffness, and instability in the spine. 

RA can cause inflammation in the joint between your C1 and C2 vertebrae, the top two spine bones. Your C1, also called the atlas, supports your head's weight; your C2, also referred to as the axis, plays a vital role in the movement of your neck in different directions.

Chronic inflammation in the joint area connecting these two bones, particularly in the synovial tissue, can lead to bone and ligament destruction within a joint. This inflammation can also cause an atlas and axis to shift out of alignment or dislocate, which can eventually cause more pain and health problems due to unnecessary pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord.

9 Other possible reasons for your neck pain

Apart from rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain may also be connected to other medical conditions or health problems. Some of these may include:

Muscle tension and strain

Some of your activities and habits can lead to muscle strain and trigger neck pain, such as prolonged sitting without moving or stretching in between, excessive exercise, wrong sleeping positions, and bad posture.


Your neck is flexible and is highly susceptible to an injury from sporting activities, vehicular accidents, trips or falls, or any possible trauma or blow to the head or neck. Once you damage your neck, your spinal cord may be affected too.

Herniated disc

Your intervertebral disc will eventually degenerate, causing them to slip and press on the nerve roots and the spinal cord. When this happens, you experience pain in the areas close to the affected nerve, including the neck. In addition, wear and tear and trauma are herniated disc contributors.

rheumatoid arthritis, upper neck pain



Infections such as viral diseases can bring body pains, including pain and discomfort in the neck. More severe conditions such as brain, spinal cord, or central nervous system infections may also cause neck pain and may need close medical attention.


Neck abscesses bring pain, too; these are the buildup of pus found in spaces between parts of the neck caused by an infection. 


In simple words, spondylosis is spinal degeneration that brings pain in the neck and lower back area. Sometimes this is also referred to as spinal arthritis.


You probably have heard of osteoporosis because the elderly are at high risk for this condition. This can bring neck pain due to the deterioration of the bones in the neck, causing tiny cracks.

Spinal stenosis

This happens when the spinal column starts narrowing, putting stress and pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord.


This illness brings widespread chronic pain to the body. If you get diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you will experience muscle tenderness and increased sensitivity throughout the body, including the neck area.

Visit an Upper Cervical Chiropractic Doctor for Upper Neck Pain and Other Health Concerns 

If you've made active efforts to relieve your neck pain yet remain persistent, you may be looking at a misalignment of the vertebrae of the upper cervical spine. Your atlas (C1) and axis (C2) bones may already be misaligned and have been putting excessive stress and pressure on your brainstem, nerves, tissues, or ligaments near the neck area, causing upper neck pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. 

You may need to speak to your healthcare provider about checking your upper cervical spine's alignment as it may be connected to your chronic neck pain. Particularly, if your brainstem is under excessive stress and pressure, there can be miscommunication between the brain and body, and several health issues may develop. In addition, when left ignored, simple upper neck pain can lead to more severe conditions like migraines with vertigo, TMJ issues, and even fibromyalgia, which can significantly interfere with your life.

To correct the alignment of your C1 and C2 vertebrae, you will need to consult and seek the expertise of an upper cervical chiropractic doctor. If this is your first time consulting with one, you can check out our directory of reputable upper cervical chiropractic doctors who have been caring for patients with neck pain issues and other health-related concerns that stems from upper cervical misalignment.

Upper cervical chiropractic care is a form of care that locates upper cervical bone misalignments and corrects them. The bones can return to proper alignment through gentle and safe adjustments that can lead to lasting neck pain relief. Visit an upper cervical chiropractic doctor near you today!

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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.