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What Is Arthritis Of The Spine

Avoid Smoking And Abusing Alcohol

What is Arthritis of the Spine?

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.

Degenerative Arthritis Of The Spine

  • Osteoarthritis Treatment Options
  • Degenerative arthritis of the spine, also called spinal osteoarthritis, happens because of the breakdown of the cartilage within the spinal facet joints. It becomes more likely after the age of 50 and is more common in women than men. This degenerative condition is generally a result of years of normal wear and tear, but injury and genetics can also be contributors.

    Inflammation and joint stiffness caused by degenerative spinal arthritis can cause discomfort and mobility problems for patients. This condition can also cause spinal narrowing and nerve compression that results in radiating symptoms in the upper or lower extremities. Any or all of these symptoms can become chronic and debilitating taking you away from the people you love and everyday activities.

    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    If you are experiencing joint pain, contact your healthcare provider. With any of the types of arthritis, its important to see a practitioner and have a treatment plan for managing the condition. There are no cures for arthritis, but treatment helps to manage the symptoms, reduce inflammation, and can even put the disease into a remission, where you will experience no symptoms for a period of time.

    The longer the disease is uncontrolled, the more likely it is for more severe damage to happen to the joints, making it more difficult to live with.

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    What Causes Oa Of The Spine

    OA is caused by slow deterioration of cartilage around joints in the lower back. The exact cause of this deterioration is unknown, but some people have a higher risk for the disease. This includes individuals who have experienced a spine trauma.

    Experiencing an injury at a younger age can make your cartilage break down much faster. Obesity can also play a role in OA of the spine because extra body weight puts added stress on the joints in your spine. Other risk factors include:

    • advancing age

    Surgery For Spinal Arthritis

    Arthritis Of The Spine

    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.

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    Surgery For Degenerative Arthritis Of The Spine

    If chronic neck or back pain due to spinal arthritis does not improve after weeks and months of conservative treatment, you may be recommended for surgery. Traditional open neck or back surgery involves an overnight hospital stay followed by a long recovery period due to the large, muscle-tearing incision required by this type of procedure.

    USA Spine Care provides outpatient, minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative for patients with back pain. Our highly skilled surgeons use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, causing less muscle disruption and resulting in a shorter recovery time^ than traditional open spine procedures.

    Contact our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care.

    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.

    Having back or neck pain doesnt mean you have osteoarthritis. Most cases of neck and back pain only last a short while and will improve by themselves, without treatment.

    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.

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    How Is Arthritis Of The Spine Diagnosed

    After an examination and a review of your past medical history your spine surgeon or his physician assistant will order x-rays and an MRI to determine exactly which level of your spine in affected. After diagnostic testing is completed your physician will determine your treatment plan. Most arthritis can be managed without surgery.

    Contact Integrity Spine And Orthopedics To Learn More About The Conditions We Treat

    Arthritis Of The Spine (Spondylolisthesis)

    At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we specialize in identifying, diagnosing and treating a wide range of acute and chronic back, spine and joint conditions. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons specialize in performing minimally invasive spine surgeries to reduce pain and improve mobility for patients diagnosed with spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease, bulging or herniated discs, a pinched nerve, spinal stenosis and more.

    Some of the primary benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

    • Smaller incisions
    • Fewer complications and bloss loss during surgery
    • Less damage to surrounding muscle and soft tissues
    • Lower risk of infection

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    Low Back Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis

    The most common symptom of spinal osteoarthritis is pain in the lumbar spine . This pain may also radiate down to the pelvis, buttocks, groin or thighs. It is usually treated through a combination of:

    • and that strengthens a person’s core
    • , acetaminophen, and/or adjuvant pain medication

    When these treatments are not enough to alleviate pain and stiffness, a patient may require procedural pain management, such as or blocking of the medial nerve through radiofrequency neurotomy, where heat generated by radio waves disrupts the nerves ability to transmit pain signals.

    Try Natural Pain Remedies

    Big Pharmas pain medications dont have a great safety track record. And thats putting it mildly.

    In fact, in 2016, researchers found that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen , naproxen and the prescription drug celecoxib re all equally dangerous for your heart.

    On the other hand, natural pain relievers like white willow bark, bromelain, turmeric and devils claw have a safety track record that goes back thousands of years.

    And studies show that herbs like these are at least as effective for reducing arthritis pain and inflammation.

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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

    Some of the exercises associated with osteoarthritis treatment include swimming, walking, and water aerobics. Exercise may be broken down into the following categories:

    • 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

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    Alternative Treatments For Arthritis Of The Spine

    Your Spine and that Pesky Arthritis

    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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    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.

    What Is Arthritis Of The Spine

    Arthritis is an umbrella term that includes all injuries and conditions of the joints. The primary symptoms are pain, inflammation and stiffness in the affected joints. Arthritis is a chronic condition with no cure, but the symptoms and pain can be controlled and managed with proper treatment.

    Arthritis of the spine develops when pain, inflammation and stiffness occurs in the joints of the spine or at the sites where ligaments and tendons attach to the vertebrae of the spine. It can occur anywhere along the spine, but it develops most commonly in the low back and neck.

    Keep reading to learn more about the different types of spinal arthritis and treatment options.

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    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.

    How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed

    What Causes Arthritis In The Spine?

    Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:

    • Medical history and physical exam

    • Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies

    • X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint

    • MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan and/or ultrasound to zero in on the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement or rule out other causes

    • Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint

    To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.

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    Rheumatoid Arthiritis In The Spine

    Causes Pain in the Back, Neck, Arm and Legs

    Arthritis affects approximately 80% of people over the age of 55 in the United States. There are many different types of arthritis, however they are all are associated with inflammation, joint pain, loss of movement and progressive degeneration of the joint surfaces. .

    Osteoarthritis is chronic breakdown of cartilage in the joints, the most common form of arthritis occurring usually after middle age.

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and progressive disease in which the immune system attacks the joints. It is characterized by pain, inflammation and swelling of the joints, stiffness, weakness, loss of mobility and deformity.

    Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the joints in the spine. Generally speaking, spinal arthritis occurs in the facet joints that connect vertebrae.

    Facet joints facilitate movement in the spine such as for bending, twisting, and stretching, but these joints can thicken and harden with age and reduce flexibility. In addition, cartilage breakdown can cause bone-on-bone friction and the resultant pain can be mild to severe. Facet joints can then become inflamed, and progressive joint degeneration that is part of the normal aging process creates even more frictional pain.

    Back and neck pain can be due to degeneration of the joints, causing pain in the joints themselves.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis Of The Spine

    Osteoarthritis of the spine may cause stiffness or pain in the neck or back. It may also cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if it is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. Usually, the back discomfort is relieved when the person is lying down.

    Some people experience little interference with the activities of their lives. Others become more severely disabled.

    In addition to the physical effects, a person with osteoarthritis might also experience social and emotional problems. For instance, a person with osteoarthritis that hinders daily activities and job performance might feel depressed or helpless.

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    Common Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis

    Some symptoms of spinal arthritis are common to all of the different types of arthritis. These can include:

    • Pain numbness in your arms and legs
    • Headaches

    There are some differences in how the symptoms can feel based on the type of arthritis.

    Osteoarthritis tends to become more painful when the joint is in use, because prolonged use of the joint increases the grinding and inflammation in the joint.

    For an inflammatory type of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, the pain can become worse even when the joints not in use, and long periods of time in the same position can increase pain.

    Symptoms can also vary based on the part of the spine affected. For example:

    • Arthritis in the cervical spine can cause pain that radiates to the shoulders, back of the head, and chest. If the nerves leaving the spine are affected, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and hands can occur.
    • Arthritis in the thoracic region can lead to pain radiating through the rib cage or abdomen. Muscle spasms can occur throughout the back and abdomen. The diaphragmthe muscle below the rib cage that affects breathingcan be painful or have muscle spasms affecting breathing. Inflammation around the ribs can also lead to pain and difficulty breathing.
    • Arthritis in the lumbar spine causes pain and stiffness in the lower back. If nerves are affected, it can lead to weakness, pain in the legs, bladder incontinence, and changes in bowel function.

    General Signs And Symptoms Of Spinal Osteoarthritis

    Spinal Arthritis

    Regardless of the location, people with spondylosis often have 1 or more of the following signs and symptoms:

    • Spinal pain that comes and goes
    • Spinal stiffness first thing in the morning
    • A crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone
    • Spinal deformity

    Symptoms of Cervical Spinal Arthritis

    • Pain, tenderness, tingling, or numbness in your neck or shoulders
    • Pain that radiates from your neck down into your shoulders, arms, and/or hands
    • Limited range of motion in your neck
    • Problems maintaining balance
    • Difficulty swallowing

    Symptoms of Thoracic Spinal Arthritis

    • Pain localized in your thoracic spine
    • Pain that spikes when you bend forward and/or backward your back

    Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Arthritis

    • Pain, weakness, or numbness in your low back, legs, and/or feet
    • Limited range of motion in your low back
    • Back pain that eases with rest or after exercising
    • Severe leg pain
    • Pain or tenderness in your hips, knees, or heels
    • Difficulty bending and/or walking
    • Loss of function

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    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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