We're using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you're agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more

What other treatments can help pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Q) I'm getting desperate. I suffer from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. My greatest problem is osteoarthritis in my cervical spine. For about five years I've been in constant pain, night and day. My rheumatologist can only suggest exercises, heat, a collar and painkillers (co-codamol), all to little effect. I heard of someone who has Botox injections three times a month, which brings great relief. Could you advise me on this or any other treatment you think would be successful? I'm reaching the end of my tether.
Patricia, Altrincham, Cheshire (Spring 2011)

A) I'm sorry to hear about this. Constant pain in the neck is one of the worst types of pain and I know from personal experience how disabling it can be. I've given Botox injections for neck conditions but only if significant muscle spasm is present – this is sometimes referred to as spasmodic torticollis. Botox works by (temporarily) paralysing the muscles. It's a drug derived from the bacteria which cause botulism, where widespread muscle paralysis can occur. It sounds worse than it is and these injections have now been introduced widely in medicine. You've probably heard of their use in plastic surgery. The paralysis isn't permanent but can last for a good while. Often the injections have to be repeated to maintain their benefit. In your case it would be advisable to seek an opinion from someone who administers these treatments. Indeed, other injections are a possibility – selective nerve blocks for example – which are usually given by anaesthetists, working as pain specialists.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Spring 2011 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to

Keep up to date with the latest from Arthritis TodaySign up today.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question

We're now

Versus Arthritis.

You're being taken through to our new website in order to finish your donation.

Thank you for your generosity.

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.