Which physical findings are characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of the cervical spine?

Updated: Aug 13, 2019
  • Author: Steven R Garfin, MD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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Inventory of these patients' condition frequently is confounded by the severity of their peripheral rheumatoid involvement. Weakness in these patients can also be due to tenosynovitis, tendon rupture, muscular atrophy, peripheral nerve entrapment, or articular involvement, making neurologic impairment less obvious. Signs of myelopathy should raise suspicion of cervical involvement. Rarely, cranial nerve dysfunction can occur secondary to compression of the medullary nuclei by the odontoid. Other rare findings in patients with advanced brainstem compression include vertical nystagmus and Cheyne-Stokes respirations.

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