Rheumatoid Arthritis & The Cricoarytenoid Joint

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is capable of occurring at any joint within the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is typically associated with joint inflammation. One particular joint that rheumatoid arthritis commonly effects is known as the cricoarytenoid joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Joints

A joint is defined as the point where two bones articulate (meet). It is these junction points, including certain muscles, tendons, and ligaments, that in combination are responsible for the capability of movement. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints in such a manner as to create pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. The condition of rheumatoid arthritis is treatable, but currently no cure exists. Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 2 million individuals within the United States, and is over three times more likely to affect women than men. While the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown, it is thought that the disease is caused by a mixture of environmental and genetic factors.

Cricoarytenoid Joint

The cricoarytenoid joint is a type of synovial joint located between the superior border of the lamina of the cricoid cartilage and the base of arytenoid cartilage. Both of these cartilages are located to the back wall of the larynx. The vibration of the vocal cords is cause for the rotation of cricoarytenoid joints. These cricoarytenoid joints are capable of a vast amount of movement including rotation, moving apart, moving together, and posterior and anterior tilting. This joint can be afflicted with the disease rheumatoid arthritis.

Synovial Joints

The cricoarytenoid joint is a type of synovial joint. Synovial joints occur where bones articulate and are physically the most moveable joints within the human body. Currently, there are six types of synovial joints including, gliding, saddle, pivot, hinge, ball and socket, and condyloid joints. Typically, the greater the movement allowed by the joint, the greater the risk for developing an injury.

Cricoid Cartilage

The cricoid cartilage, more commonly known as the cricoid, is a ring of cartilage surrounding the trachea. It serves to provide an attachment point for various cartilages (including arytenoids cartilage), ligaments, and muscles that are utilized for the processes of speech production and the closing and opening of the airway.

Arytenoid Cartilage

The arytenoids cartilages are pyramid shaped with three surfaces, in addition to a base and an apex. Each of these surfaces is necessary for either an attachment or to serve as an articulation point. The base of the arytenoid cartilage is the articulation point for the cricoid cartilage. This articulation point is where the cricoarytenoid joints are formed. The vocal cords are attached to the arytenoid cartilage. The arytenoids cartilage is responsible for the proper tension and relaxation of the vocal cords.

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Cricoarytenoid Joint: Complications

When rheumatoid arthritis affects the cricoarytenoid joint, there is possibility for the development of specific complications. While studies are preliminary, there have been associations between rheumatoid arthritis of the cricoarytenoid joint with the development of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). There also exist associations between rheumatoid arthritis of the cricoarytenoid joint and acute laryngeal obstructions, causing difficulty breathing, voice changes, and hoarseness due to inflammation.




Photo Credit: mtsofan

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