Headaches are one of the most common pains that a lot of people suffer from every day. Headaches range from mild headaches that go away after a short nap to severe headaches with a throbbing pain that doesn't go away even after medication.
Sometimes they make it hard for you to go about your daily activities. They may result from certain things like exposure to loud noise, bright light, medical conditions, medications, allergies, poor posture, or trauma to the head.
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One of the medical conditions that could cause headaches is arthritis. Arthritis is a disease characterized by tenderness and swelling of one or several of your joints. The common symptoms of arthritis are swelling, stiffness, and pain in your joints.
Another major symptom of arthritis is headaches and migraines. They mainly result from arthritis that affects the back and neck, which are called spondyloarthropathies. Two of the most common types of spondyloarthropathies are rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
Arthritis-related headaches are called cervicogenic headaches. These types of headaches result from pain in the neck. They may reduce your range of motion from the neck, and any movement or pressure in the neck worsens the pain.
This is an autoimmune condition that causes your body’s immune system to mistakenly attack your joints, causing inflammation.
That inflammation results in the thickening of the synovium, which is the tissue lining the inside of your joints, causing pain and swelling around the affected joints. Continued inflammation in the joints could damage your bones and cartilage.
Once you lose cartilage, the space between your bones narrows, causing a lot of pain. Rheumatoid arthritis could affect your spine, especially near the neck. When it causes damage to your synovial joints C1-C2 in your upper spine, Rheumatoid arthritis causes cervicogenic headaches.
The synovial joints in your neck help with support and allow movement of your neck. When Rheumatoid arthritis causes damage to those joints, your vertebra becomes unstable, which may make it dislocate or shift over time.
Eventually, it may press on the nerve roots and spinal cord, causing tingling, numbness, and pain in the neck, which then radiated to the head and causes a migraine.
Patients suffering from those headaches describe it as a pain that starts in their neck and radiates to the back of their head.
Rheumatoid arthritis might also result in vasculitis. That is the inflammation of your blood vessels around the joints affected by the disease. If the disease affects the joints in your spine, the blood vessels around those joints swell, limiting blood flow.
That can result in nerve, brain, and spinal cord injury. When it affects your central nervous system, vasculitis could cause chronic headaches. Nervous system vasculitis may also cause brain aneurysms, which is a weak point on the walls of your blood vessels in the brain.
Brain aneurysms cause extremely severe headaches that patients describe as the worst headache. Rheumatoid arthritis causes other conditions that trigger migraines, including blood clots, brain swelling, and fibromyalgia.
Also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis results in the breakdown of the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones where they interlock to form joints. That results in a lot of friction when moving the affected joints, which could result in swelling.
When Osteoarthritis affects the spine, it damages the cartilage found in the facet joints, which joins the vertebrae together. That causes swelling, pain, and trouble moving the affected part of the back.
With time, the bones in the spine might break down. That might cause the development of growths known as bone spurs. In some people, the bone spurs do not cause any problem. However, in others, it may cause pain in the spine and neck.
That pain then travels to the neck and may trigger a migraine. In the late stages of Osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the vertebrae breaks down completely. Without that cushioning, the bones constantly rub against each other.
That causes joint damage and constant pain that radiated to the head, causing severe migraines that are hard to treat. The pains in the back, neck, and migraines worsen after you engage in any activities.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which causes your immune system to attack some of your healthy body parts, especially your joints and skin. It mainly affects people who have psoriasis, a skin condition that causes patchy and red skin.
When Psoriatic arthritis affects your joints, it may cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joints or throughout your body. Axial psoriatic arthritis is a type of Psoriatic arthritis that affects the spine.
It results in inflammation and bony growths in different parts of the spine, which affect your shoulders, back, and hips. When inflammation happens between the vertebrae joints, it causes pain in the back and neck, which radiates to your head, causing a migraine.
Most of the time, you may pass a headache as just a normal pain that will go away after a nap or after taking pain relievers. However, arthritis headaches may not subside with either of those. Other times, arthritis patients may think that most of their headaches are from the disease.
Some of the symptoms that help distinguish arthritis migraines and other types of headaches include;
• Weakness and a tingling sensation in the neck, arms, and scalp.
• Pain that happens only on one side of the head that does not affect your temple area.
• Blurry vision.
• Weakness and fatigue.
• Loss of concentration.
• Difficulty moving your neck or bending.
• Lack of sleep.
First, you have to consult your doctor to determine if your migraines are related to arthritis. Some of the things you can do to manage and treat those migraines include;
• Avoid stress. Stress is one of the major causes of headaches, and avoiding that can reduce or eliminate your arthritis migraines.
• Engage in light physical exercises like walking and yoga. It helps relieve muscle tension.
• Physical therapy.
• Nerve blocks, anti-inflammatory medications, and steroid injections.
• Get enough sleep.
• Quit smoking.
• Correct your posture.