There is a lot of information on headaches and arthritis, and yes, if you did not know; arthritic conditions can promote painful headaches. Those who suffer with any form of arthritis have probably experienced an arthritic headache at one time or another, the symptoms are unmistakable. Since Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any age, it is not uncommon to see a young person with disfigured joints also having complaints of head pain at the same time. Any form of arthritis that causes damage to the joints is considered a possible culprit for severe headaches, specifically those which originate in the neck.
What Causes the Headaches?
If you have an arthritic condition such as Rheumatoid arthritis, this is one of the most crippling and the most destructive when it comes to healthy joint tissue being destroyed and bones becoming disfigured. Headaches can originate anywhere from the 3rd vertebra in the neck and upwards. So, those who suffer from extreme arthritic symptoms quite often have discomfort in the pinpointed neck region and on into the head. This is where the headaches must originate for them to be determined to be arthritis headaches.
The way in which arthritis contributes to these headaches is directly relative to the nerves which supply impulse signals to the scalp from the neck and spine. The neck pain that begins can actually be present anywhere in this area, and it can come on by itself, or it can be coupled with a blinding headache. Now, let us be clear that if the headache or neck pain originates anywhere below the third vertebra then it is more likely that the headache is stemming from TMJ versus any arthritic condition the patient might have. It was believed to be important to point this out as there are a number of patients that sometimes mistake their form of headache with a diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis or even osteoarthritis too.
There is a variety of causes for the headaches, with the nerves to the scalp already having been mentioned. However, this literature would like to emphasize the factors that do contribute to these headaches far more coherently. The bullet points below illustrate what the main causes for these headaches are:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: as was mentioned, the nerves that spread out in the neck to the scalp are affected by this condition, which then leads to the arthritis headaches
- Osteoarthritis: this condition attacks ligaments and calcifies them, making it far more painful than even Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is more likely headaches will occur from this condition than the Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Arthritic Medications: when weaned from some of these medications, a patient can go into withdrawal symptoms, one of these being the arthritis headache.
Treatment for Arthritis Headaches
Currently those who get these forms of headaches are often treated with NSAID’s. These help minimize the pain from inflammation and pressure caused by the arthritis. Sometimes specialists generally start off recommending an over the counter medication such as Tylenol arthritis which is excellent for headache control, as well as painful arthritic symptoms. It is if, and when the condition worsens that doctors then turn to prescription medications such as Topamax, or NSAID’s, as well as some other potent prescription drugs. The type of prescription often varies on the patients symptoms, as every individual is different with these forms of headaches.
If you’re a patient who is not too fond of having to take additional prescription drugs then there are holistic therapies you can attempt. Heat massage therapy is a good one, as heat is applied to the neck region which is promoting the pain into the head. There is also heated massage which focuses on this region to lessen the symptoms. Furthermore, a physical therapist might work with you on specific exercises to help control the pain associated with your arthritic condition. Some therapists do recommend a neck collar as it can help with the stiffness and limiting the amount of pain from the arthritis itself. For some, a heated neck wrap helps soothe the stress and pain away before it becomes too over powering for them to deal with. There are many holistic options out there; you just have to determine what works best for your own situation.