Inflammatory and Infectious

Though infections and inflammation of the neck spine are rare, if they are neglected for a period of time, or if there is a delay in diagnosis, they can become a significant source of pain and disability. Bone and joint infections anywhere in the body can be crippling and life threatening, and infections in the neck spine are no exception.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a rare condition that can cause back and neck pain. It is a rheumatic inflammatory disease that affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. This disease is three times more likely to develop in men than in women and it usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 40.

Although it primarily attacks the spine (usually the low back first), this chronic and painful disease can also attack other joints, tendons and ligaments, and the chest wall. Though its cause is unknown, ankylosing spondylitis tends to run in families which suggests that genetics plays a role in the development of this disease. A patient is 10 to 20 times more likely to have ankylosing spondylitis if a parent or sibling also has this condition.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects almost 200,000 children in the United States. JRA is a disease that causes painful, swollen, and stiff joints in children, most commonly in large joints like the knee.

JRA has three well-defined subsets: the disease affects only one joint; the disease affects many joints, and a systemic form, which means that it affects other organs in the body besides the joints. The systemic form of the disease is most often associated with high fevers and rash, in addition to arthritis. The many joint and systemic forms of the disease are the two types that commonly affect the neck spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is among the most debilitating forms of arthritis causing joints to ache, throb and even deform over time. The exact cause of this inflammatory condition is not known, but it is believed to be caused by an attack on the tissue that lines the joints by the body’s immune system.

The upper neck spine can be damaged by the inflammation that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis. This disease is three times more common in women than in men and usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 50. Just like the gradual destruction of other joints in the body, several joints between the base of the skull and uppermost vertebral bodies in the neck spine are very susceptible to damage from rheumatoid arthritis.