Rheumatoid Arthritis and Basilar Invagination | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Basilar Invagination

Nicole bradshaw post

The story of the courageous and cute Nicole Bradshaw

Imagine cold sharp screws digging into your skull while you are wide awake. No, it’s not an early Halloween movie. It’s Nicole Bradshaw’s autobiography.

This vibrant Australian young woman has lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis since childhood. She became accustomed to pain, surgeries, and medications. Her courageous spirit and sense of humor kept “it all under control, or so she thought.”

And then one day, as she puts it in her book, “her head fell off!”

She writes about herself: “Suddenly and when she least expected it (like you ever would), her head fell off. Just like that! Nicole had a basilar invagination… (this) occurs when the odontoid peg (that’s the little peg your head sits on) moves up through the base of your skull. Nicole’s did just that, and was touching her brain stem and spinal cord, causing her to lose strength in her legs and arms and feel indescribably weird.”

Nicole has written the story of her recovery from this episode and her life with the disabilities of Rheumatoid Arthritis. At this point, Nicole’s memoir is self-published online. She is hoping to attract enough attention to have her story published and “end up on Oprah,” she says.

I hope you will check out her website Has my halo slipped? You can read the first chapter of her book online for free. Perhaps you will want to mention her book venture on your blog or twitter. (Or you can post to FB or twitter with a button below this post.)

Basilar Invagination

In case you are curious, here are a couple of links that will help you learn more about this rare and serious complication of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Also, please read the comment about chiropractic manipulation and RA that I wrote in response to Viesta on a recent post. It is important to take precautions if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis in the cervical spine.

Courageous warriors against Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is the first in a regular series of profiles in courage. RA Warrior will feature the heroic tales of real people who fight RA every day. This is the story I asked Woman’s Day to tell. But, you know what they say, if you want something done right, sometimes you gotta do it yourself.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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11 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Basilar Invagination

  • Pingback: Arthritis – Types and Symptoms | What your joints need

  • September 11, 2009 at 10:16 am

    What an exceptionally brave young lady Nicole is, to keep her sense of humour when faced with all that she has had thrown at her is truly remarkable. Although when you have RA(or a son/daughter/relative with RA) it is sometimes hard to read things like, we should do so, because however difficult it is to read it, it is 100 times more difficult to actually live through it and people like Nicole have an awful lot to teach us. Thank you Nicole for being brave enough to tell us about your RA, you are an inspiration.

  • September 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    thanks for posting this. I have also put this up on my blog (which is pretty new so doesn’t get a lot of traffic, but it is what I can do 🙂 )

  • December 5, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    This scares me as I have had a problem with my neck for quite a long time now. I have S-shape scoliosis and have had it all my life. I went through several very painful neck adjustments during the 4 years I saw a chiropractor. I finally insisted that they no longer do this to me. It was like I had to fight to make them stop. Ever since then I have had difficulties with my neck. My mom and I were both dx with some kind of weird problem where we do not have “cushioning” between our larger neck bone and spine. It is basically bone-on-bone and we have been told that we are supposed to do these neck “exercises” for the rest of our lives and also when our necks hurt we are supposed to put our chins on our chests for awhile to relieve pressure. Heres the really weird stuff….for the past 2-3 years there are times when my neck makes all these strange little cracking sounds. I can barely move my neck and it will suddenly start up and I have sometimes counted the number of “cracking sounds” and they have gone up to 20 or 30 for the slightest movements. Sometimes when I have bad headaches my neck also does this and my neck will not be moving at all. I have asked nurses about this and if this has ever happened to them or anyone else they know. Their responses? They have looked at me like I am crazy and have said things like, “no, no one I know has things like that in their necks” and also “you must be making it worse than it is because no ones necks crack like that”. When I think of all the things I have learned on this site thanks to Kelly and her brave sharing and research I am so thankful. I can honestly say with all my heart that Kelly has probably given me the chance to see my grandchildren someday. Now, I can arm myself when i see my doctor and MAKE him run tests and actually “TOUCH” me. Yes, so far I have seen him 3 times and he is wonderful because he was the one who did dx me but he won’t touch me. He barely looks at my fingers and touches them He looks at my deformed looking feet and toes and tells me I have “water weight” and need to stay on a salt free diet. He says that he feels “water weight” in my fingers when it is obvious to me that it is synovium fluid. Hopefully my head won’t “fall off” but I think that Nicole is “crazy” as in funny and I plan to read her book! Thanks for being “crazy” as well Kelly, it does help difuse our situations! :cat2:

    • December 5, 2009 at 10:09 pm

      Others have written to me with those same symptoms in the neck (noises, the headache, and pain). I did not think they were crazy because I have the same symptoms. RA in the cervical spine causes those symptoms. However, very few people will become as Nicole did.

  • April 21, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Hi Nicole, My name is aL Masters. I too have long-term JRA, and am dealing with Basilar Invagination. I saw my Neurosurgeon yesterday and he does not wan to to do surgery until absolutely necessary. However, I am having lots of problems, so I think I am going to force the issue or get a new Dr.

    Can you email me and give me a brief description of your ordeal? I would really appreciate it. I am scared to death of the surgery, but more scared not having it…

    aL masters
    Plano, TX USA

    • April 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      Hi AL,

      Here is the link to Nicole’s website: click here.

      There is more information on there about her ordeal & you will be able to email her. Good luck to you. Sorry about your situation. I’ll pray the surgery goes well.


  • September 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I had a very scary experience earlier this year after PT therapy for occipital neuralgia. My Pt did a prolonged session to decompress the area by digging her fingertips into the base of my skull and pulling up. I had a terrible headache upon leaving the office which grew progressively worse on the way home. I had trouble focusing on the road, was dizzy, and had to pull over numerous times. The headache was blinding and would not respond to any medication including migraine meds. I truly feared that I would die and wished at times that I would over the two days that it lasted. So when you hear that manipulation is not recommended, this does not include only chiropractors!

    • September 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      Julia, I’m so glad you were alright! With my own neck affected by RA, I’m so cautious. I can’t imagine anyone doing that to an RA patient. I had a lot of respect for the chiropractor who warned me never to allow that. What do they think was causing the occipital neuralgia?

  • Pingback: Pain in the Neck, Wheelchair, Fears & Contest | Tanya Martin

  • July 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    My friend just got diagnosed with BI. She is a longstanding RA patient. I’ve read about minimally invasive endoscopic technique at UPMC. Any thoughts?
    Thank you,


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