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Forms and Symptoms of Elderly Head Arthritis

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

It’s an unfortunate fact that ageing sometimes brings with it aches and pains. When the pain is in an older person’s hands, wrists or hips, it’s no surprise if a GP diagnoses the pain as due to arthritis.

But, in fact, arthritis can cause pain all over the body – including in the chest, back and more.

So, if you’re an elderly person who has headaches, you might wonder: can you get arthritis in your head?

As a matter of fact, you can. In this blog post, we’ll explore several types of head arthritis that your GP might diagnose you with if you’ve been having headaches.

What is arthritis?

To dive deep into the details of arthritis in the head, let’s review what arthritis actually is.

Arthritis is an umbrella term covering a large number of conditions. Many of these conditions relate to pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints. While some types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis, aren’t caused by problems with the immune system, many other types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are. Moreover, some other autoimmune conditions not directly relating to the joints are also sometimes seen as types of arthritis.

The bottom line – there are numerous different ways in which arthritis can affect an older person’s body. There is no one type of arthritis called “head arthritis,” but several of the different types of arthritis can cause pain in the head in different ways.

Types of arthritis in the head

First, a disclaimer – if you’re concerned about pain in your head, you should seek medical help. This is especially important because, as you’ll see, one condition that we’ll mention can cause very serious impacts if it isn’t treated rapidly. So, it’s important not to delay.

With that caveat aside, let’s look into the different types of arthritis that can produce arthritis headaches or other head pain.

Jaw arthritis

Since the jaw is a joint in the body, it’s natural that it can suffer from arthritis as many other joints do. In fact, arthritis in the jaw can be caused by a handful of different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, among others.

What’s the difference? Well, osteoarthritis is sometimes thought of as a condition of “wear and tear,” which is why it’s most common in the elderly. An older person who grinds their teeth a lot or clenches their jaw might be at increased risk of osteoarthritis.

On the reverse side, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. While the jaw isn’t the most common location for rheumatoid arthritis to strike, it is possible.

When an older person has arthritis in their jaw, particularly if it’s combined with other jaw problems, it could make them have headaches or pain in their head.

Cervical spondylosis

Now we move from the easy-to-understand jaw arthritis to the not-so-simple cervical spondylosis.

Actually, this condition is not as complex as it sounds. It just means neck pain in the elderly that’s due to ageing and wear and tear – similar to how osteoarthritis is connected to wear and tear. You might not be surprised, then, to hear that cervical spondylosis is sometimes just called arthritis of the neck.

If you have cervical spondylosis, you might have arthritis headaches in the form of pain that begins at the nape of your neck and then progress forward across the top of your head.


You may be familiar with fibromyalgia as an autoimmune condition causing pain everywhere in the body, tiredness and a feeling of having foggy thinking. In fact, fibromyalgia has a wide range of possible symptoms, including headaches.

Some don’t consider fibromyalgia a type of arthritis, but others do, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. It’s also worth noting that people who have fibromyalgia have a higher chance of also having other types of arthritis, too.

And a warning: temporal arteritis

As we’re discussing pain in the head, it’s worth mentioning a serious and dangerous condition that can cause headache symptoms in the elderly. Giant cell arteritis is inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to your head. When this happens in the arteries in your temples, a common form of the condition, it’s called temporal arteritis.

Temporal arteritis needs urgent treatment. If you are concerned you might have it, the NHS recommends that you get an urgent GP appointment or call 111. If this condition isn’t treated in a timely fashion, it can lead to strokes or blindness.

What does temporal arteritis feel like? Symptoms include:

  • Intense, recurring headaches
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Pain, soreness or tenderness in the temples or scalp
  • Vision problems.

Temporal arteritis or giant cell arteritis is usually not considered a form of arthritis. But, since it’s an autoimmune condition, you’ll often find information about it alongside arthritis resources.

Protection for seniors who suffer arthritis headaches

Headaches can strike unexpectedly, and if they’re very painful, it can be difficult for an older person to complete their daily tasks.

It’s understandable why an elderly person who suffers from headaches might worry about what they’ll do if a headache arrives all of a sudden – particularly if they live alone and perform all their care tasks independently. What makes it more complicated is that seniors might find it difficult to dial a phone for help when arthritis headaches are making it hard to think or move about.

Personal alarms are a great solution to ensure that if an older person feels pain coming on, such as a headache, they won’t have to go through lots of steps to get assistance. With a one-touch alarm, pressing just one button is enough to get an older person connected to help – whether that’s from friends and family or an expert response centre.

A talking pendant alarm can be great in this situation, too. It allows the wearer to talk through the alarm just as they would a phone, so that they can explain their symptoms and what help they need even if their phone is in a different room. That’s especially helpful for seniors who have arthritis that already makes it difficult for them to get around safely, even without a debilitating headache.

Get peace of mind despite arthritis headaches with SureSafe

When it comes to personal alarms for the elderly, SureSafe are experts. We’re a UK market leader in affordable, highly reviewed alarms that are specifically made to meet the needs of elderly people.

If you’re an older person who suffers with arthritis, headaches, or any other condition, why not give us a call to see how a personal alarm could help? You can reach us on 0800 112 3201 or through our live chat, and you can also request a call back.

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