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
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
Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks synovium the lining of the joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in other joints, it can also affect the spine, specifically the cervical region . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is not caused by wear and tear, so its considered an inflammatory arthritis. It may cause back pain even when these joints are not in use. It tends to affect women more than men.
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The 5 Most Common Types Of Arthritis
Posted on December 2nd, 2015 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group
Contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not a disease. Rather, it is an informal way of referring to joint pain and disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In fact, there are more than 100 types of arthritis, affecting people of all ages, races, and genders.
While many different types of arthritis exist, these five forms seem to be the most prevalent.
Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
The treatment for osteoarthritis of the spine will depend on a host of factors, including which joints are affected, your age and state of health, and the presence of other conditions.
The most common nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis include:
- Medications to reduce pain and swelling
- Physical therapy
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What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Its the most common form of arthritis.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine .
- Juvenile arthritis , a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
- Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis .
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.
Heat And Cold Therapy
Scientists have proven that applying heat or cold continuously or in frequent intervals can considerably reduce even chronic back pain and offer great relief.
Heat can be either moist or dry. Heating lamps, pads, and wearable heat packs are some of the dry heat sources. A warm bath and warm clothes that are soaked in warm water can be the moist sources.
*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.
Cold compressor filled with ice, cold therapy are also beneficial. However, it should be noted that ice should never be applied directly to the skin as it can cause sudden sensation in the nerves and joints around the area.
Also, keeping ice for too long can result in joint stiffness and may even increase the pain. A period of 20-25 minutes is considered as ideal and it can be done 2-3 times a day for best results.
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Risk Factors For Spinal Arthritis
If you are experiencing back pain that has been diagnosed as spinal arthritis, you may be wondering what caused the condition. In many cases, the exact cause of spinal arthritis is unknown. However, one common cause is general wear and tear, as the cartilage between the facet joints gradually breaks down, leading to pain and inflammation. Some forms of spinal arthritis may even be hereditary. Other possible risk factors for spinal arthritis include:
- Injury or trauma to the joint
- The existence of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, Lyme disease, or gout
Axial Vs Peripheral Spondyloarthritis
Where symptoms occur in the body can help clinicians make a more accurate diagnosis, especially when it comes to spondyloarthritis.
Axial spondyloarthritis generally affects the spine and pelvic joints, whereas peripheral spondyloarthritis mostly affects the arms and legs. The two conditions affect the body in different areas, thus making them two distinct groups of spondyloarthritis. Each condition has other types of conditions within their grouping as well.
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Who Gets Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
In general, osteoarthritis happens as people get older. Younger people may get it from one of several different causes:
- injury or trauma to a joint
- a genetic defect involving cartilage
For people younger than age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among men. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often among people who are overweight. It also occurs more frequently in those who have jobs or do sports that put repetitive stress on certain joints.
The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Spine
Back pain due to arthritis manifests through some very specific symptoms. These symptoms are important to note as these can be used by doctors to better diagnose the specific back pain you are suffering from.
- Stiffness in the neck and back which is also accompanied by pain, in most cases a debilitating kind of pain.
- The pain from the neck and back can go all the way down to the arms and even to the legs. This wider reach of the pain often reveal the severity of the damage in the cartilages.
- One common observation by sufferers of the condition is that the pain is reduced when they lie down flat in the bed.
Like any other causes of back pain, the severity of the discomfort can vary widely. The pain however is not the only problem faced by people who are suffering from the condition. The pain and the limitation it can impose on them at work and at home can make them feel helpless. This can easily progress to depression later on.
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Can Arthritis Go Away On Its Own
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. However, you can take steps to relieve your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. You should start by seeing a doctor to discuss possible treatments, which can include medications, physical therapy, or surgery. If you have a mild form of arthritis that isnt causing too much pain yet, it might be worth trying some lifestyle changes like exercising more and eating better in order to prevent it from progressing.
However, if you find that your symptoms are only getting worse and dont show signs of slowing down over time, then you may need to discuss treatments with your provider. The goal is not to make you live with it forever the goal is to help slow the progression and prevent worsening symptoms.
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 Arthritis Of The Knee
Arthritis is a disease that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints. It can affect the largest and strongest joints in your body. Its common in knees. Arthritis of the knee can be a serious, debilitating disease.
Although there is no cure for knee arthritis, there are steps you can take that might ease your symptoms and potentially slow the progression of your disease.
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Progression Of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Over months or years, pain may spread up the spine and into the neck. As the disease progresses, the body’s defense mechanisms fight back by producing new bone . The new bone grows between and around the vertebrae, causing abnormal fusion and increases the risk for spinal fracture.
Sometimes ankylosing spondylitis leads to a spinal deformity such as a humpback or swayback . Advanced symptoms can be chronic and include severe pain and stiffness of the spine and possibly other body joints. Bowel and eye inflammation may be associated with ankylosing spondylitis.
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Spinal Arthritis May Contribute To Other Issues In The Spine
Spinal arthritis may cause bone spurs overgrowths on the edges of the bones. In the spine, bone spurs particularly affect facet joints, making them grow larger. This condition is called facet joint hypertrophy. Although bone spurs on their own are not harmful, they may narrow the passages for the spinal cord and the nerves exiting the spine. This may lead to two painful conditions:
Spinal stenosis compression of the spinal cord inside the spinal canal
Radiculopathy pinching of the peripheral nerves as they exit the spine
Ankylosing spondylitis may also cause additional problems such as:
Stress fractures in places where new bone has formed
A spinal deformity called kyphosis
Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis
Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis is a disease affecting the bones. Inflammation is normally one of the bodys protective responses to infection or injury, but in diseases such as CRMO, uncontrolled inflammation can cause damage. In CRMO, inflammation targets the bone and can occur throughout the body.
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How Will Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Affect Me
The first sign of osteoarthritis of the spine is usually pain and stiffness in your back or neck.
The condition can be difficult to diagnose, as it can be hard to tell which symptoms are linked to osteoarthritis. It can even be hard to spot back and neck problems on x-rays of the spine, as changes caused by osteoarthritis dont always cause pain.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine will vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are:
- pain in your back or neck
- stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or after resting
- crunching or grinding noises when moving your back or neck.
People who have osteoarthritis in their neck might also have headaches or feel pain in their shoulders and arms.
Its normal for the cartilage in our joints to get thinner, especially as we get older. But in people with osteoarthritis, its the bodys normal process of repairing damage to joints that can cause pain and stiffness.
When the body starts to repair damage to cartilage, the whole joint can be affected including the bone, tendons and ligaments.
During the repair process, the edges of the bones in the spine can grow outwards, forming bony spurs. These are known as osteophytes . The discs between the vertebrae in the spine can also become thinner.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment May Include:
- MedicationsAs with more common osteoarthritis, treatment often begins with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications . Although most patients’ symptoms respond well to anti-inflammatory medication, these drugs do not treat the underlying disease. Sometimes medications are not strong enough.Unlike osteoarthritis, in inflammatory arthritis, certain medications can affect the actual disease. For example, TNF-blocking drugs may help block a protein that can cause inflammation . Adalimumab , etanercept and ixekizumab are three types of TNF-blockers that may stop disease progression.
- Physical therapy, therapeutic exercise Physical therapy stresses proper posture, joint mobility, and deep breathing. Some patients may develop forward posture therefore, postural training and extension exercise is helpful. Stretching and range of motion exercise helps keep the facet and rib joints mobile. Additionally, deep breathing expands the chest and aids lung function.
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How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Treated
In most cases, treatment of spinal osteoarthritis is geared toward relieving the symptoms of pain and increasing a person’s ability to function. The goal is to have a healthy lifestyle.
Initial treatment may include losing weight if needed and then, for everyone, maintaining a healthy weight. It may also include exercise. Besides helping with weight management, exercise can also help:
- increase flexibility
- improve blood flow
- make it easier to do daily tasks
- Strengthening exercises. These exercises seek to make muscles that support the joints stronger. They work through resistance with the use of weights or rubber bands.
- Aerobic exercises. These are exercises that make the heart and circulatory system stronger.
- Range-of-motion exercises. These exercises increase the bodyâs flexibility.
Including rest periods in the overall treatment plan is necessary. But bed rest, splints, bracing, or traction for long periods of time is not recommended.
There are non-drug treatments available for osteoarthritis, including:
- heat or cold compresses, which refers to placing ice or heated compresses onto the affected joint
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation using a small device that emits electrical pulses onto the affected area
- nutritional supplements
Neck Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis of the neck, called cervical spondylosis, is also common. This is characterized by arthritic deterioration of the discs and facet joint cartilage of the cervical spine. Spondylosis is nearly universal in elderly patients, but can also affect younger people. Some people experience no symptoms, while others may feel stiffness and/or pain in the neck, shoulders and/or between the shoulder blades. See also .
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Coping With Low Mood And Sleep Problems
Living with pain can affect your mood and sleep, and its normal to feel low from time to time. If this is something that affects you, try going along to a pain clinic, where you can learn how to manage your pain. Theyll usually take place at outpatient clinics, and you can be referred to them by whoever is treating you.
Pain can be affected by different things, including feeling low or stressed. There are a number of talking therapies and techniques you can learn, which can help you manage your pain, support your emotional wellbeing, and deal with any low feelings you might have. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can help with osteoarthritis.
Learning to relax your muscles can also help, particularly if you have neck pain and are feeling stressed, as this can cause your muscles to become more tense.
A pillow thats too firm or thick can make neck pain worse. Try to sleep with your head level to the rest of your body. Its important to have a mattress that gives your head and spine proper support.
Try having a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio or a relaxation CD to wind down before bed. If pain is waking you during the night, try taking paracetamol or another painkiller before bed. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert for more advice.
Inflammatory Arthritis Versus Osteoarthritis
Arthritis of the spine falls into two basic categories:
- chronic autoimmune disorders such as , a condition which often begins at a young age and is characterized by low back and/or neck pain, morning stiffness, and limited motion in the back, which is improved by exercise and unrelieved by periods of rest.
- degenerative changes in the joints that occur as a person ages. Osteoarthritis of the spine causes joints along the spine to deteriorate and may result in the formation of bone spurs, cysts, and a narrowing of the disc space.
Osteoarthritis of the back or neck is significantly more common than is inflammatory arthritis. Below is a narrated video animation about osteoarthritis of the spine.
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