Your Guide to RA Headaches & How to Get Rid of Them

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know all about chronic pain. With RA, your immune system is attacking your own body’s joints and tissues. Painful swelling and inflammation occur due to the effect on the lining of your joints, which can result in bone erosion or joint deformity. As the disease progresses, the more likely you are to experience pain in your wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders. These are the more commonly talked about symptoms associated with RA, but it can affect people in a number of different ways. Keep reading to learn more about how rheumatoid arthritis can quite literally be a headache to deal with.

Fast Facts on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Before understanding the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to fully understand what RA really is. Commonly confused with osteoarthritis, the chronic inflammatory disorder can do more than just affect your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause painful swelling, sometimes leading to joint deformity and bone erosion. With time, the disease is much more likely to spread to other parts of your body. In fact, 40% of people who have RA experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints at all.

Signs and symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis will come and go, ranging in severity depending on the case. RA flares are the periods of time when there is an increase in disease activity and symptoms. If your symptoms are extreme and persistent, make sure you see a medical professional.

What Exactly is Causing My RA Headache?

If you believe your headache is stemming from rheumatoid arthritis, it’s time to take action! The real reason behind the cause of your headaches can be narrowed down to a few different factors in relation to RA, including:

  1. RA Treatment

    Check the medications you’re taking to treat your RA pain. Dealing with aches and pains caused by rheumatoid arthritis is far from enjoyable, but how often are you taking over-the-counter medications for your pain? When we lean on everyday pain relievers a bit too much, it can result in painful headaches and migraines. If you are taking these medications daily and not seeing relief, try to cut back and find a different approach.

  2. Stress & Anxiety

    It’s no secret that stress can easily trigger a headache, but when you are dealing with RA, it can get difficult to manage. In fact, just having RA can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. Stress is also common during painful RA flare-ups.

  3. Upper Spine Damage

    Upper back and neck pain can result from rheumatoid arthritis, due to your body’s immune system attacking the lining of the small joints of your spine. This pain can lead to cervicogenic headaches. The neck and upper back pain you are experiencing works its way to your head. In most cases, cervicogenic headaches develop on one side of the head, starting from the back of the head and neck and radiating toward the front. If you are dealing with pain in your back and neck, try using a brace for your upper back for extra support while you’re active!

    neck pain from rheumatoid arthritis

  4. Lack of Sleep

    When you’re dealing with the pain that comes along with rheumatoid arthritis, falling asleep can feel next to impossible. Try to design a good sleep hygiene routine. Depending on your situation this may include talking to your doctor, changing your diet, getting exercise in during the day, and trying pain relief options such as compression support while you sleep to help with pain, like this nighttime back brace

Relief & Remedies for Arthritis Migraines 

Depending on the true reasoning behind your headache, taking action can be as simple as getting more sleep. Here are some of the best ways to say goodbye to your RA headache pains for good:

  • Use relaxation techniques such as yoga to stretch and relieve stress
  • Improve your sleeping habits
  • Follow a simple exercise routine designed by a physical therapist
  • Use a hot/cold pack  to ease pain
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use medications in moderation

Taking the right action for you is what will help you get rid of rheumatoid arthritis caused headaches. Arthritis pain is enough on its own, don’t let unnecessary headaches and migraines add to it!


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