What Types of Arthritis Causes Headaches?

Updated February 21, 2017

Headaches sometimes occur as symptoms of arthritis if is located close to the head. Often, arthritis in one or all of the first three vertebrae in the neck will cause headaches in the back of the head along the top of the neck, next to the vertebrae. Two types of arthritis most commonly lead to headaches.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

With rheumatoid arthritis, the body begins to attack its own tissues and destroy bones and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the first and second vertebrae in the neck, causing headaches in the lower, back portion of the head. This is because of the collection of nerves that span out from this area of the neck.


Osteoarthritis occurs as the ligaments weaken and calcify as the body attempts to heal damaged joints. Osteoarthritis normally affects the fifth through seventh vertebrae, though it sometimes affects the vertebrae closest to the neck. Osteoarthritis is more painful than rheumatoid arthritis so the pain associated with osteoarthritis might radiate to the head and cause headaches.


Withdraw from arthritis medications often causes headaches. If you have been taking an arthritis medication for several months or years, the headaches you experience might be the result of forgetting to take your medication normally. This is because your body has developed an addiction to the arthritis medication.

Pain Relief

Headaches and arthritis are treated with similar medications. Pain relievers like Tylenol Arthritis are designed to relieve pain associated with arthritis and treat headaches that may result from it. However, a general pain reliever or headache medication will normally work to treat both problems and relieve painful symptoms for a few hours.


If you have arthritis and headaches, it doesn't mean they are related. Headaches may be brought on by anything from allergies to stress.

Typically, only arthritis in joints near the head causes headaches. Some people will suffer from arthritis in the jawbone, which will cause a headache and pain near the ear, where the jawbone connects to the skull. Headaches that persist near an arthritic vertebrae or jaw bone should be evaluated by a doctor.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Stephanie Daniels is a freelance writer residing in Louisa, Kentucky. Daniels focuses on parenting, children, gardening and home-decor articles. She was the manager of Home Decor for Home Depot for 4 years. Daniels has written for many online publications and enjoys ghostwriting.