erson clutches the back of their aching neck

When Psoriatic Arthritis Becomes A Pain In The Neck

While I have three of the five types of psoriatic arthritis, spondylitis has served as the most severe. Until recently, my lower back created the most pain and was the hardest to manage. However, in the past year, I have noticed an increase in pain at the base of my neck.

What exactly is spondylitis?

Spondylitis is inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae. For many people, myself included, the neck and sacrum area can be impacted the worst. This form of PsA also affects ligaments and tendons and may be linked to hip, arms, legs, and feet joints.

I recognized my neck pain as soon as my body began presenting symptoms from psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. But instead of impacting my daily life, the worst flare-ups were reserved for days when my entire body refused to cooperate.

Treating debilitating neck pain

It wasn’t until 14 years after my symptoms first presented that I began experiencing severe neck pain after being upright for a full day. The pain and stiffness were awful, but more often than not, gone the next day after treating it with cannabis, pain-relieving balms, heat, and massage.

Three years later, I tried and successfully reduced that pain with PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy. With most of 2020 and 2021 spent in bed due to fallout from another health issue, I forgot about the neck pain. It wasn’t until Disneyland reopened this summer that I realized just how far the pain in my neck had progressed.

Muscles and tendons need to rest

Although PEMF therapy still reduces the pain I experience in my neck, the relief doesn’t last as long at this new level. In addition, my muscles have been reacting in ways that pain relief is not enough.

For this, I have added a foam neck brace to my chronic illness pain bag. They also desire the comfort that only heat can bring, which I provide with a portable USB-powered neck heating pad. The addition of neck muscle exercises has been challenging too. I can only do so much without angering the muscles more.

While adding new tools to relieve pain while away from home or after sitting up for a few hours is frustrating, not knowing how long I will be able to hold my head up is the worst. Some days I can go six hours before muscles tension and pain begins. And other days, I may find myself unable to nod or turn my head just after an hour.

Do you experience pain in your neck?

The progression of my neck pain has put an end to my thrill ride days. You may find me on the infant-friendly and wheelchair-accessible rides at Disneyland, but there are times when even they are too wild for my neck. Thankfully, there is still much to enjoy without going on rides.

Out of my two spondylitis hot spots, I would declare the neck to be the most debilitating. My power wheelchair and pain management plan make getting around with lower back pain. In contrast, my neck requires that I stop and give it time to rest before functioning.

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