Rheumatoid Arthritis and Back Pain: How a Second Opinion Made the Difference

Rheumatoid arthritis and back pain can go hand-in-hand. So many bodily conditions can overlap and this is one you might find rather frequently. National Spine Health Foundation CEO Dr. Rita Roy recently sat down with Rebecca Gillett — one of our friends and collaborators over at the Arthritis Foundation.

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Rebecca lives with Rheumatoid arthritis and is also a Spinal ChampionĀ®. She’s championed multiple surgeries in order to fight for the pain-free and active lifestyle she has. As they like to say over at the Arthritis Foundation, Rebecca likes to “Live Yes!”

Rebecca also offers us practical advice for seeking multiple opinions when pursuing spinal treatment. Having two conditions — both Rheumatoid arthritis and back pain — led her to do so. Getting a second opinion can be important when making a big decision about surgery or other treatment:

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis, caused when the immune system is not working properly. This condition can cause pain and swelling in the small joints of the hands and feet.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may include:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Extraordinary joint stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Back Pain

According to Mayo Clinic, Rheumatoid arthritis can cause further damage to the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels in some cases. Consequently, it can also begin to affect areas connected to the spinal chord and cause back or neck pain. Sometimes this is called Spinal Arthritis.

This can cause:

  • Neck and/or back pain
  • Swelling of joints
  • Warmth around the joints
  • Headaches and pain at the base of the skull (if RA is present in the cervical spine)
  • Painful and stiff joints
  • Loss of flexibility and function of joints

Learn more about Rheumatoid arthritis and back pain here.