Rheumatoid arthritis may involve every joint of the body and the small joints of the neck are commonly involved.
Neck movements become progressively limited and the nerve roots may be pressed on by damage to the vertebra or stretched when the softened ligaments allow the bones of the neck to become displaced.
Either way pain radiates from the neck down the arm and movement of the head and neck aggravates the pain.
Osteoarthritis may also involve the joints of the neck in older people resulting in stiffness and pain on movement. This can be severe in cases of ankylosing spondylitis.
In addition to pain on movement, a dull ache may result from muscular effort to support and hold your head still. The pains often felt in the back of the head or may radiate over your shoulders and sown your arms and may be accompanied by tingling in your fingers.
These symptoms are often troublesome at night and made worse by sleeping with the head in an abnormal position – the result of using too many pillows and sleeping on a soft mattress.
Poor posture or sleeping heavily with too many pillows may also give rise to pain and stiffness of the neck.