How Spine Osteoarthritis Causes Pain
Cartilage does not contain nerves, so damaged cartilage is not a source of pain. Likewise, bone spurs are normal signs of aging, and not necessarily a cause for concern. Rather, spine osteoarthritis can lead to pain because:
- Friction at the facet joints may lead to inflammation, which can cause pain.
- Muscle spasms may occur as a reaction to osteoarthritic changes. Muscle spasms can cause pain and stiffness and decrease function.
- Bone spurs and/or enlarged facet joints can impinge upon the spinal cord and nerve roots. This impingement can cause radicular symptoms and signs such as pain, tingling, and numbness in the areas supplied by the affected nerve.
- Other related changes, such as synovial cysts, may form near the facet joint capsules. Synovial cysts are abnormal but benign fluid-filled sacs. Like a bone spur, a synovial cyst can impinge on nerve roots.
Not everyone who has spine osteoarthritis feels symptoms. Researchers do not yet understand why some people experience arthritis pain and others do not.
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.
Alternative Treatments For Arthritis Of The Spine
There are also several alternative treatments that may be considered in addition to more conservative approaches. We do recommend working closely with your physician when trying an alternative method of treatment. This way, you can ensure that the treatment youre receiving is from a licensed practitioner.
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What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and the spine is one of the most commonly affected parts of the body. Osteoarthritis of the spine affects the back and neck.
Osteoarthritis of the neck is sometimes called cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis means arthritis in the spine, and cervical is the medical term for the neck.
The joints in your body go through a normal cycle of damage and repair during your lifetime. But sometimes the process your body goes through to repair joints can change their shape or structure. When these changes happen in one or more of your joints, its called osteoarthritis.
A joint is where two or more bones meet. You have a number of facet joints that sit on either side of your spine and guide the movement of the bones in your back and neck.
There are 33 vertebrae in your spine these start at the top of your neck and run all the way down your back, to your tailbone.
The spine is sometimes called the vertebral column or spinal column. Its purpose is to protect your spinal cord, carry the weight of your body and help you move around. The spine is split into five sections cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.
Strong ligaments surround your spine and support the vertebrae, to help keep them in place.
How Sciatica Is Treated
At-home treatment for sciatica consists of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, icing and/or applying heat to the afflicted area, and some patience. For many people, that is enough to help them heal within a few weeks.
If your pain is bad enough that youve sought professional help, however, you likely need extra help. Treatment options for sciatica include:
This is the most common and generally most effective treatment for sciatica, says Dr. Huffstutter. The main goal is to take pressure off the sciatic nerve by strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles. Physical therapy can be invaluable its really hard to learn how to do the right exercise without it, he says.
Epidural steroid injections
Physical therapy is very helpful, but sometimes the pain is too severe, and the patient feels they cant do it, says Dr. Barsoum. In that case, the first step might be to inject inflammation-reducing medication directly into the epidural space that surrounds the nerves in the spine.
Your doctor might suggest using anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or even a narcotic medication if the pain is very severe. These drugs can make you feel a lot better and give your body a chance to heal.
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Arthritis Of The Spine Treatment Advanced Short
Although there is no cure for arthritis of the spine, treatments can improve joint function and keep joint pain and inflammation to a minimum. Your symptoms, age and general health will help determine your treatment. Your spine specialist may recommend a combination of the following arthritic spine treatments:
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain medications may be a viable option if your arthritis is mild to moderate. Prescription pain medications may be prescribed for the short-term if your arthritis pain is severe.
- Hot and cold compresses: Applying hot or cold compresses to your back may improve your arthritis back pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy: Low-impact physical therapy exercises can relieve stiffness and improve your range of motion.
- Steroid injections: An injection of corticosteroid medication into your facet joint may temporarily relieve moderate to severe pain.
If conservative treatments do not provide you with relief from your arthritic spine, a surgical procedure may be recommended. We may suggest , a minimally invasive spine surgery using a tool called an arthroscope. Containing a camera lens and light, an arthroscope makes it easier for our spine surgeons to see inside your joint and make the most efficient surgical repair.
A minimally invasive spinal fusion, which involves joining two or more vertebrae into one single structure, can also be beneficial. It can correct the spinal weakness or instability that severe arthritis in the spine may cause.
Reducing Your Risk Of Spinal Arthritis
You cant change your gender, race or genes, but there are other ways you may be able to lower your risk of spinal arthritis. These include:
Getting regular low-impact exercise to strengthen back and core muscles
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent or slow osteoporosis
Maintaining a healthy weight
Sleeping on a firm mattress and using a supportive chair at work
If you have a family history of inflammatory spinal or if you have , talk with your doctor about additional ways you can manage your risk of developing arthritis of the back.
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What Are The Main Types Of Spondyloarthritis
There are several types of arthritis that are grouped together, under the name spondyloarthritis. These include:
- ankylosing spondylitis: causes inflammation of the joints in the spine.
- psoriatic arthritis: related to the skin condition psoriasis.
- reactive arthritis: develops in response to an infection.
- enteropathic arthritis: related to inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease. About one in 10 people with an inflammatory bowel disease develop this type of arthritis
- undifferentiated spondyloarthritis: a form of spondyloarthritis that does not fit into any of the above four categories.
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
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What Treatments Are There For Spondyloarthritis
Your rheumatologist will tailor your treatment to your symptoms and how severe your condition is. There is no way of predicting exactly which treatment will work best for you. Your doctor may need to trial several different treatments before finding the one that is right for you and may include:
- physiotherapy exercises, to keep the spine flexible and improve posture
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Facet Joints Are Synovial Joints
Health professionals classify facet joints as synovial joints. A delicate membrane, called a synovial membrane, encapsulates each facet joint. The membrane produces a viscous, slippery fluid, called synovial fluid that lubricates the joint.
Examples of other synovial joints include shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, and knuckles. All synovial joints are susceptible to osteoarthritis.
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Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis is derived from the Greek word arthros meaning a joint and its attachments, and -itis means inflammation. The word arthritis refers to a condition of the body that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in joints. There are many different kinds of arthritis and fifty million Americans live with some form of it.
It is so common, approximately 90% of people fifty five years and older have some kind arthritis. By 2020, its estimated that at least sixty million people will suffer from arthritis.
How Will I Know If I Have Lumbar Arthritis
If youre experiencing lumbar arthritis, you may have already been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. In most cases of psoriatic arthritis, a diagnosis of psoriasis will precede any arthritis symptoms that occur.
If youre experiencing stiffness, creaking, and lost range of motion in your lower back and have never been diagnosed by a doctor with arthritis, see your doctor. They will perform a physical exam to check for inflammation and swelling at the site of your pain.
If your doctor suspects that you have arthritis, you will probably need to have an X-ray. X-rays can show any issues with bone density, cartilage loss, and bone spurs that may be causing your pain.
X-rays can also be useful in tracking your arthritis and assessing whether your recommended treatment is preventing further damage to your joints.
Your doctor will also order a blood test to determine what kind of arthritis you have.
You may be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in joint pain, for further testing.
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Avoid Smoking And Abusing Alcohol
As you can see, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent arthritis from developing in the spine. Smoking is bad for the bones and it releases toxins in the body that can keep the spine from receiving certain nutrients. Abusing alcohol can leave your body dehydrate, which is also bad for your joints. The answer is simple, quit smoking and dont abuse alcohol.
Can Lumbar Arthritis Be Prevented
Your age, family history, and gender can all contribute to arthritis development. Although these factors are outside of your control, there are certain things that you can do to limit the pressure on your vertebrae. Reduced pressure may prevent flares of lumbar arthritis or other symptoms.
To reduce your risk of flare-ups:
Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can put unnecessary stress on your joints.
Opt for low-impact exercise. Stretching, yoga, and swimming can all relieve pressure on your back.
Move with care. When dealing with heavy objects, be sure to lift with your knees and not with your back.
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When Spine Osteoarthritis Is Serious
Severe spinal osteoarthritis is typically accompanied by degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or both. These conditions can lead to the compression of the spinal cord or its nerve roots, causing one or more of these symptoms:
- Excruciating lower back or neck pain that prevents most daily activity, including sleep
- Severe sharp, shooting, and burning pain in the leg or arm
- Progressive weakness in the leg or arms
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
The loss of bowel and/or bladder control accompanied by one or more other symptoms may indicate a rare medical emergency called cauda equina syndrome. Urgent medical attention is crucial for making as full a recovery as possible.
Read more about Cauda Equina Syndrome on Spine-health.com
Ankylosing Spondylitis Risk Factors
Certain things that you canât control might raise your risk of AS:
- Sex. Men are more likely than women to have AS, and it strikes them earlier and harder. Women tend to have a milder form of AS called non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.
- Age. AS often starts in your teens and young adulthood. About 80% of cases begin before the person turns 30, and 95% by age 45.
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Minimally Invasive And Safe Treatment
The type of treatment employed will depend on the severity of the patients spinal stenosis. Prevention is a crucial component to reducing the risk of developing arthritis and spinal stenosis. Even severe cases can experience considerable relief with surgical decompression. Patients can speak with a spine specialist to learn more.
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:
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Arthritis In The Back: Symptoms Types Of Back Arthritis
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint condition sometimes called ‘wear and tear’ affecting the spine, hips, knees, feet, and hands. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease causing chronic inflammation of the joints in the overall body. Symptoms of Arthritis Arthritis is a general term used to describe joint disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing chronic inflammation.. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joint linings that produce fluid that lubricates the joints
When Osteoarthritis Isnt At Fault
Arthritis isnt always the cause of spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis can develop in conjunction with osteoarthritis due to a different underlying cause. Other spine conditions and diseases that can lead to spinal stenosis include a collapsed vertebral disc or an inherited spine disease. A physician may use medical imaging and perform lab tests to determine any underlying cause, such as ankylosing spondylitis and nutrient deficiencies.
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Spinal Arthritis May Contribute To Other Issues In The Spine
Spinal arthritis may cause bone spurs â 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 stenosisâ compression of the spinal cord inside the spinal canal
Radiculopathyâ 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
Why The Spine Is At Greatest Risk
Due to the significant day-to-day strain that is placed on the spinal joints, the spine is at greater risk for arthritis and will experience degeneration over time.
Arthritis in the spine takes hold in the facet joints or vertebral joints. These joints are responsible for connecting the vertebrae and are located at the base of the spine. They are also allow for movements such as bending and twisting. Overtime, degeneration leads to osteoarthritis of the spine.
The pain produced by this disease can range from minimal to severe. In more severe cases, impacted nerves can produce pain in other parts of the body such as the buttocks and upper thighs. At more advanced stages, arthritis will cause more frictional pain. This produces additional back pain and stiffness which decreases motion and flexibility.
Spinal osteoarthritis can sometimes be mistaken for DDD . DDD is the gradual deterioration of the spine discs found in between individual vertebrae that serve as cushions and shock absorbers for movements in the spine. These two conditions usually occur together, but it is important to note that they are different conditions.
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