Surgery for Rheumatoid Arthritis and other inflammatory spine conditions
Inflammation is a body’s natural response to tissue irritation or damage, and it can cause swelling, redness, heat, and loss of function. Inflammation of a joint is called arthritis, and it can be confined to a single joint, or it may be wide-spread, as in rheumatoid arthritis. If you suffer from this rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory spine conditions, you are likely to have brittle bones and your nerves in the spine may be pinched. Your spine may also be in the wrong alignment. Your neck is likely to feel sore all the time. You may be referred by your rheumatologist to see us for possible surgery.
Surgery will usually involve inserting titanium screws and rods to correct the deformity, as well as opening the space for the nerves (Figure 1). This procedure is more commonly performed from the back of the neck, and it will involve shaving your hair and placing you in the face-down position for the duration of the operation. Your head will be secured onto a head holder during the surgery.
Occasionally, fixation to the base of the skull (occipitocervical fusion) is essential to obtain total stability of the spine in these challenging cases.