Integrative Medical Treatments For Spinal Osteoarthritis
Treatment plans for spinal arthritis often involve integrative medicine, which combines conventional Western medicine and alternative medicine. Physicians, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and/or massage therapists may each play a role in treatment. Finding the right health care providers and mix of treatments may require trial and error.
What Causes Spinal Arthritis
Osteoarthritis in the back is often caused by degenerative disc disease. This condition occurs when the supportive intervertebral discs between each bony vertebra in the spine begin to wear down and lose their cushioning ability. Spinal joints run along the back, or posterior side of the spinal column connecting one vertebra to another. They allow you to move and bend your entire upper body. Less space between vertebrae due to disc disease increases pressure on the spinal joints. When the bones rub together, it causes pain and stiffnesstypically in the lower back.
Scientists arent certain about the cause of inflammatory spinal arthritis, but they believe it may be inherited. More than two dozen genes have been linked to the development of ankylosing spondylitis.
Get Started With Princeton Orthopaedic Associates
Princeton Orthopaedic Associates has doctors and nursing teams dedicated to treating spinal pain due to arthritis. Our team provides exceptional diagnosis, treatment, and recovery support from your first visit to your last. We know that each patient is unique, which is why we tailor every treatment plan specifically for you and your needs.
Contact Princeton Orthopaedic Associates to find out how we can help you live without the pain of spinal arthritis.
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Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments dont sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
What Causes Spinal Arthritis Pain
Arthritis of the spine develops in the small joints located between each vertebra called facet joints. As we age, the cartilage lining the joint surface can shrink and wear thin causing bone spurs and enlargement of the joint, which often leads to the inflammation and pain of arthritis.
Arthritis can occur anywhere in the spine from the neck to the lower back. Arthritis pain is often worse in the morning, when the weather changes, after over-exertion or even after long periods of sitting. Bone rubbing on bone, abnormal curvature of the spine, loss of flexibility and difficulty bending or walking may also occur. However, because these symptoms are not unique to arthritis, its important to identify the correct source of pain to successfully treat your problem.
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Alternative Treatments For Spinal Osteoarthritis
There are a wide variety of nonsurgical treatments, including pain and anti-inflammatory medications that may help manage your symptoms. As always, you should consult your physician before attempting any type of treatment.
Here are five natural arthritis of the spine treatment options that may help you find the symptom relief you are looking for:
- Chiropractic manipulation. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help take the pressure off nerves that have been affected by spinal arthritis by putting the spine back into proper alignment.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises. Regular exercise can help improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles that support the spine.
- Massage therapy. This form of treatment targets the muscles around the spine to help reduce tension.
- A high-collagen diet. Overall joint health can be improved by eating a healthy diet that includes the nutrients needed to help your body produce more collagen. Leafy greens, bone broth, wild salmon and eggs are a few excellent choices.
- Herbal supplements. You can naturally reduce pain and inflammation by taking supplements that contain fish oil, turmeric, magnesium and proteolytic enzymes.
Are There Any Complications
Some people who have osteoarthritis in their neck might have problems swallowing or when they speak, but this is not very common. This can be caused by bony spurs affecting blood supply to the spinal cord.
If you have osteoarthritis of the spine, you may have other problems that may need treating. Let your doctor know urgently if you:
- have trouble going for a wee, or feel like you need a wee when you dont
- lose control of your bladder or bowel the organs that control wee and poo
- have feelings of numbness or tingling around your genitals or bottom
- lose power in your legs
- feel unwell like having a fever or sweating.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that happens when the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, gets narrower. The most common symptoms are pain and weakness or numbness in the area linked to the affected part of the spine such as the legs, arms, neck, back or shoulders.
Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis, as the bony spurs that form on the edge of the vertebrae can irritate the nerves in your spine. It can usually be treated with exercise, over-the-counter drugs and steroid injections.
Sometimes surgery will be needed to remove the spurs and make space in the vertebral column.
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The Best Exercises For Arthritis Back Pain
Arthritis can feel like a real pain in the back. In fact, the back is the most common source of pain among all individuals.
Unlike acute, or short-term back pain, arthritis can mean long-term chronic discomfort.
Symptoms that may accompany back pain include:
Your symptoms may be so severe that you dont feel like moving. But with your doctors consent, you may find that exercise can be one of the best ways to relieve arthritis back pain.
Transform Chores Into A Workout
If youre at a loss for where to work out, look no further than your own house. Chores can turn into opportunities for arthritis exercises.
The key is to engage your core muscles. Keep your back straight and gently contract your abdominal muscles to get the most out of your movements.
Bend with your legs and not with your back while tightening your stomach to protect your back muscles.
You can practice this technique during a variety of chores, including:
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How Is Spinal Arthritis Treated
The treatment for spinal arthritis depends on many factors. They may include your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis and personal health goals. Because the joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, the treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling
Other medications targeting specific symptoms or triggers of inflammatory arthritis
Physical therapy to improve back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: losing weight, quitting smoking, changing your posture, etc.
Can Arthritis Cause Sciatica
Yes, arthritis can cause sciatica. Osteoarthritis in the spine can damage and destroy the cushioning discs and cartilage between the bones of the spinal column. As the damage worsens, the sciatic nerve may become irritated or inflamed. The risk of a slipped discs is higher, too, and this increases the risk of sciatica.
Arthritis in the spine can also cause bone spurs to develop. These bony growths along the spine are small but can be jagged. These can put pressure on the lumbar nerves.
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What Is Arthritis Of The Spine
Spinal arthritis describes joint pain and inflammation that affect the facet joints in the spine or the sacroiliac joints that connect the spine and pelvis.
While arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, it more commonly develops in the neck and low back . There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but some forms are more likely to affect the spine than others. These include:
- Osteoarthritis. Wear and tear arthritis is the most common form that develops in the spine. It typically affects the facet joints between vertebrae in the low back and neck. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones begins to wear away, causing pain, stiffness, inflammation and swelling in the joint. Over time, the cartilage may wear away completely, leading to painful bone-on-bone friction.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that develops when the bodys immune system begins attacking its own tissues and joints. It attacks the cartilage and lining of the joint, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness.
- Ankylosing spondylitis. Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spinal joints and the connective soft tissues. It causes painful inflammation of the vertebrae, joints and attached ligaments and tendons. It commonly develops in the low back vertebrae and sacroiliac joints. Over time, ankylosing spondylitis can cause vertebrae to fuse.
Types Of Arthritis That Affect The Back
If you have arthritis in your back, its important to understand the type of arthritis that might be causing it. Different types of arthritis have specific medications and treatments. Here are some of the more common types of arthritis that affect the back.
It is common for people with back pain to have more than one cause, which could include arthritis as well as other causes .
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What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that causes chronic spine inflammation. Ankylosing spondylitis inflames the sacroiliac joints located between the base of the spine and pelvis. This inflammation, called sacroiliitis, is one of the first signs of AS. Inflammation often spreads to joints between the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spinal column. This condition is known as spondylitis.
Some people with AS experience severe, persistent back and hip pain and stiffness. Others have milder symptoms that come and go. Over time, new bone formations may fuse vertebrae sections together, making the spine rigid. This condition is called ankylosis.
Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of spinal arthritis. It usually affects the lower back and develops through wear and tear. As the cartilage between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it is typically more noticeable when you bend or twist your back. Past back injuries may also contribute to the development of degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Osteoarthritis of the spine usually affects the facet joints between the vertebrae. It is also known as facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome and facet disease. In some cases, degeneration of the spinal discs may contribute to facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.
When these degenerative changes occur in the neck, this condition is called cervical spondylosis. Arthritis in the neck doesnt always cause pain, and many people have no noticeable symptoms.
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What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
Its a degenerative condition that develops as the cartilage that lines, lubricates, and protects your joints wears away.
Without cartilage, the bones in your joints grind together, leading to irritation, inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis of the spine develops in the facet joints that connect your vertebrae.
Its worth mentioning that osteoarthritis and degenerative discs often occur hand in hand.
This happens because the disc and facet joints are both parts of the same three-joint complex.
Your risk for osteoarthritis increases as you age and if youre overweight. These joints can also deteriorate following an injury or as the result of torn spinal discs.
When a damaged spinal disc doesnt sufficiently support your vertebrae, additional and often excessive force is transmitted to your facet joints, accelerating their degeneration.
What You Need To Know
- Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
- Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine but is more frequent in the lower back and neck
- Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
- Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
- Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
- Several signs and symptoms of facet joint disorders may be similar to other lower back conditions, such as degenerative disc disease. These conditions also typically occur together, causing overlapping symptoms, which tends to make the diagnostic process more challenging.
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Common Forms Of Spine Arthritis
There are over 100 different forms of arthritis and many of them can affect the spine. The most common causes of spinal arthritis are wear, tear and degeneration of the spine and autoimmune disorders. Osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are 2 types of arthritis that frequently develop in the spine.
1.) Osteoarthritis. The most common type of arthritis of the spine is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by wear, tear and joint damage in the spine. Age, a history of back injuries and overuse from repetitive motions can cause the cartilage between spinal joints to break down, causing pain and inflammation at the joint sites. Although osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory form of arthritis, it does cause inflammation at the affected sites. Most people develop spine osteoarthritis in the low back.
2.) Ankylosing spondylitis. Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory form of arthritis. It causes inflammation at the spinal joints and at the sites where tendons and ligaments attach to the vertebrae. Joint pain and stiffness can develop and progress anywhere from the neck to the sacroiliac joints in the sacrum.
Other types of inflammatory arthritis can develop in the spine, but these forms occur less frequently:
- Performing a job or activity that places repetitive stress on joints
Spinal Cord Stimulation: An Alternative Or Adjunct To Medication For Spinal Osteoarthritis
If youve taken several medications for your spinal osteoarthritis with little relief, your doctor may recommend , also known as neuromodulation to help relieve your chronic back or neck pain.
Spinal cord stimulation generates mild electrical impulses that block pain signals from reaching your brain. Pain is perceived in the brain. Neuromodulation involves implanting a small generator either in your abdominal or buttock area and thin wires called leads into the spinal canal. Some patients are not candidates for SCS, such as people who are pregnant, have a heart condition, epilepsy or have an existing implanted device such as a pacemaker. If your doctor recommends SCS, the first step is a trial period where the system is temporarily worn outside your body. If your pain improves using the stimulator, the device may be implanted surgically.
For some patients, spinal cord stimulation also helps them reduce their dependence on opioids or other pain medications. If youre concerned about tapering or weaning off your pain medication, talk to your doctor about strategies that may ease this process.
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Spinal Arthritis Symptoms Causes And Treatment
Spinal arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative condition that affects many older adults. It is the most common form of arthritis. When this specific type of osteoarthritis is present, it is typically the result of inflammation of the facet joints located in the spine or sacroiliac joints at the base of the spine.
Although we are going to focus on osteoarthritis of the spine today, it is important to note that other types of arthritis can affect the spine, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine
With more than 27 million Americans living with OA, it is clearly a condition that many are familiar with. Osteoarthritis of the spine can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, impacting your overall quality of life. Unfortunately, in many cases, nothing can be done to prevent spinal arthritis. Regular wear and tear and degeneration are common causes, along with a few others, which we will discuss below.
This diagram shows a healthy spine versus an osteoarthritis spine.
Causes Of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis is typically the result of years of wear and tear that has caused deterioration of the joints and cartilage along the spine. Regrettably, we still do not know exactly why this happens. Even those who have taken good care of themselves are at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the spine.
However, there are several risk factors that may make you more susceptible to spinal arthritis:
- Spinal trauma or injury
- History of osteoarthritis in your family
- Working a job that caused repetitive stress on the back
- Other conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gout, psoriasis, or tuberculosis
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What Otc And Prescription Drugs Treat Spinal Osteoarthritis
Over-the-counter and prescription medications for spinal arthritis are usually the same as those taken to treat joint-related arthritic pain in the hips and kneesunless the diagnosis is rheumatoid or another type of inflammatory arthritis. For patients with symptoms of pain or numbness affecting the arms or legs, a may be considered.
Today, people with spinal arthritis have access to different types of pain medications that can be taken or applied to relieve pain. Some require a doctor’s prescription, some do not. However, do not assume that just because a drug is available without a prescription, or over the counter, that it is safe for everyone.
Disk Degeneration And Bone Spurs
As the disks in the spine age, they lose height and begin to bulge. They also lose water content, begin to dry out and weaken. This problem causes settling, or collapse, of the disk spaces and loss of disk space height. Eventually, the cushioning qualities of the disks begins to decrease.
As the facet joints experience increased pressure, they also begin to degenerate and develop arthritis, similar to what may occur in the hip or knee joint. The smooth, slippery articular cartilage that covers and protects the joints wears away.
If the cartilage wears away completely, it can result in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for the lost cartilage, your body may respond by growing new bone in your facet joints to help support the vertebrae. Over time, this bone overgrowth called bone spurs may narrow the space for the nerves and spinal cord to pass through . Bone spurs may also lead to decreased range of motion in the spine.
Side view of a healthy cervical vertebra and disk. A disk that has degenerated and collapsed.
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