Spinal Arthritis: 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.
What Causes Arthritis Of The Knee
Experts have identified some genes that might cause arthritis, including arthritis of the knee. They predict that there are more genes not yet discovered. You could have a gene linked to arthritis without knowing it and a virus or injury could trigger arthritis of the knee.
Though the cause is unknown, some risk factors increase the possibility of arthritis of the knee. Risk factors of osteoarthritis, specifically, include:
- Age. Osteoarthritis happens to older adults more often than younger adults and children.
- Bone anomalies. Youre at a higher risk for osteoarthritis if your bones or joints are naturally crooked.
- Gout. Gout, also a type of inflammatory arthritis, might lead to osteoarthritis.
- Injuries. Knee injuries can cause arthritis of the knee.
- Stress. A lot of stress on your knees from jogging, playing sports or working an active job can lead to osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Weight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees.
Decrease Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
Too much sugar in ones diet can significantly increase their risk for cardiovascular disease . According to a 15-year study, those who consumed 17 percent to 21 percent of their calories from sugar had a 38 percent higher chance of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who consumed less sugar. This is especially important to keep in mind when living with RA: People with the condition develop heart disease at nearly twice the rate as compared to those without it.
RA can also negatively impact the heart and blood vessels. In addition to the joints, chronic inflammation damages the heart, blood vessels, and other parts of the body in approximately 40 percent of RA cases. Reducing your sugar consumption can help both lower your risk of developing heart disease and decrease inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular problems.
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Reasons To Avoid Sugar If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis choose to limit or eliminate certain foods from their diets to reduce inflammation. One ingredient that your health care provider may recommend you avoid when living with inflammatory arthritis is sugar. From aggravating RA symptoms and inflammation to increasing your risk for other complications or health issues, too much sugar or sugar substitutes can make life with RA even more difficult.
Here are three reasons why you should consider limiting your sugar intake as part of your RA care plan. As always, ask your rheumatologist or a health care provider for medical advice before making dietary changes. They can advise you on the best way to do so or refer you to a specialist, such as a registered dietitian, for further guidance.
Arthritis: What Is It What Causes It And How To Treat It
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and is often blamed on wear and tear. Right now, there are millions of Americans with OA, and their joint pain, swelling and stiffness can become a chronic condition that is felt most commonly in the knees, hips, lower back and neck, but can also effect smaller joints of the feet and hands. This is why its so important to learn as much as possible about arthritis in order take steps to improve your OA now.
After treating many patients with joint pain due to OA, we routinely get questions about how to prevent and/or treat arthritis, and we wanted to answer those common queries so people would understand what causes OA and what can be done to minimize the impact of arthritis.
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How Is It Treated
Some kids who have JIA might take medicine like ibuprofen to help control pain and inflammation. If the arthritis is more severe, they may need to take other medicines to help lower the pain and inflammation. Some of these medicines are pills, but others are shots.
It’s important that kids with JIA keep their joints moving. Often a kid will see a physical therapist or occupational therapist. In addition to working with children to move their joints and strengthen their muscles, these therapists can help create special exercise programs for home or school that can help a kid stay active.
In addition to joint problems, JIA may cause uveitis , an inflammation of the eye that can lead to problems with vision if it’s not treated. All kids diagnosed with JIA should get their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating eye problems. If the eyes are affected, they may be treated with eye drops.
Besides taking medicines, a kid can do a few things to help with the symptoms of JIA:
- Keep joints warm and stay active.
- Take warm baths, which can make a kid’s joints hurt less.
- Use an electric blanket on a timer that turns on 1 hour before a kid wakes up, which can help warm the joints and help a kid move better.
- Some kids dip their hands in a special warm wax called paraffin that helps their joints ache less.
Nonsurgical Treatments For Hip Arthritis
- Activity modifications may help reduce painful flare-ups. Avoid activities that aggravate hip arthritis, such as running, jumping and other high-impact exercises.
- Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss, can help reduce stress on the hip joint.
- Physical therapy exercises can help improve strength in the hip. Engaging in low-impact exercises and activities, such as swimming and cycling, and remaining physically active are key to managing hip arthritis symptoms.
- Heating pads can help soothe inflammation in the hip.
- Medications and injections, such as corticosteroid injections, hyaluronic acid injections, platelet-rich plasma injections, vitamin and mineral supplements, and immunosuppressive or biologic medicines can help control pain and inflammation. Which medications will work best depends on the type of arthritis.
- Walking aids such as a cane or walker provide support when walking.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Joints get sore and swollen for many reasons. It could be due to an injury, overuse, or doing a new type of physical activity.
See your doctor if you have pain and stiffness that starts with no clear reason, lasts for more than a few days, and also causes swelling, redness and warmth. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from getting worse and causing long-term damage.
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
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What Is The Knee Joint
Three bones come together to form your knee joint. They include the:
- Thighbone .
- Shinbone .
- Kneecap .
A smooth substance called cartilage covers the ends of each bone. Its a cushion between the bones that keeps them from rubbing together. The synovial membrane, a type of tissue that surrounds the joint, lubricates the cartilage.
Arthritis of the knee causes pain and swelling in the joint
Arthritis Treatment: Occupational Therapy
Protecting your joints is an important part of arthritis treatment. With the help of an occupational therapist, you can learn easier ways to do your normal activities. An occupational therapist can teach you how to:
- Avoid positions that strain your joints
- Use your strongest joints and muscles while sparing weaker ones
- Provide braces or supports to protect certain joints
- Use grab bars in the bath
- Use modified doorknobs, canes, or walkers
- Use devices to help you with tasks such as opening jars or pulling up socks and zippers
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What Questions Might A Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose Arthritis Of The Knee
Your healthcare provider will interview you when you report your symptoms. Some questions might include:
- Does anyone in your family have arthritis of the knee?
- Does your knee swell up?
- Is your skin often red?
- Is your skin often warm?
- Do you have symptoms in one knee or both?
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- What medications do you take?
- How severe is your pain?
- Do you struggle to walk?
- Do the symptoms interfere with your daily activities?
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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Causes Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means your immune system attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake, making the joints swollen, stiff and painful.
Over time, this can damage the joints, cartilage and nearby bone.
It’s not clear what triggers this problem with the immune system, although you’re at an increased risk if:
- you are a woman
Find out more about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
How Does Arthritis Feel
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.
The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.
It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.
Arthritis can make it hard to do the movements you rely on every day for work or taking care of your family.
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Stop Fearing Medications That May Help
Arthritis patients sometimes avoid painkillers because they’re afraid they’ll become addicted to them, or they choose not to use biologic drugs because they fear potential serious side effects. Remember that your healthcare provider would never prescribe something that might hurt you or that you could become dependent on as long as you take it as directed.
Make sure you understand when and how much of your medication you should take, and how you should take it and your arthritis meds should do nothing more than make it easier for you to live comfortably.
Alternative Medicine For Arthritis
A variety of alternative therapies is used for arthritis. However, none of these has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of arthritis, so they may not be effective or safe. It is important to let your doctor know if you’re considering these types of treatments.
While some studies suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are as effective as NSAIDs for reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness in osteoarthritis, recent large studies funded by the NIH suggest these supplements are not very helpful, except perhaps in some cases. Typical daily doses are 1,500 milligrams for glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams for chondroitin.
The antibiotic doxycycline may have some potential to delay the progression of osteoarthritis by inhibiting enzymes that break down cartilage. More research is needed to confirm these results.
The NIH considers acupuncture an acceptable alternative treatment for osteoarthritis, especially if it affects the knee. Studies have shown that acupuncture helps reduce pain, may significantly lessen the need for painkillers, and can help increase range of motion in affected knee joints.
The supplement SAMe has been shown in some studies to be as effective for osteoarthritis pain as NSAIDs.
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Surgery For Hip Arthritis
The progression of hip arthritis and effectiveness of various nonsurgical treatments varies. If nonsurgical options dont provide the desired pain relief and your quality of life suffers, it may be time to consider surgical options, such as:
- Hip replacement surgery, or hip arthroplasty, is a procedure to replace one or both ends of a damaged hip joint with artificial implants.
- Hip resurfacing is a procedure during which a surgeon trims and caps the head of the thighbone with a metal cap and lines the socket with a metal shell after removing damaged tissues.
- Hip fusion is a procedure to fuse the bones of the hip joint together. It used to be the standard surgical treatment for hip arthritis before replacement surgeries became available, but is now a last-resort treatment as it severely impacts mobility.
Hip and Knee Replacement at Johns Hopkins
The Johns Hopkins Hip and Knee Replacement program features a team of orthopaedic specialists highly skilled in joint replacement procedures. Our team will guide you through every step, from presurgical education to postsurgical care and physical therapy. Our goal is to return you to your desired level of activity as soon as possible.
Be Careful With Sugar
Its important to note that some sugar substitutes can be just as harmful as sugar for inflammation. Products that are marketed as sugar-free often contain aspartame an artificial sweetener that may worsen RA symptoms like inflammation.
Low-fat foods can also be misleading. These foods usually contain fewer calories but more sugar than full-fat versions. Food manufacturers will often add sugar to low-fat foods to add flavor.
Trans fats, which are common in processed foods, also trigger inflammation and should be avoided. Read nutrition labels and opt for full-fat foods to help you stay away from unnecessary sugars. Adding nutritious foods that contain vitamins and antioxidants to your diet will potentially help your RA, strengthen your immune system, and improve your overall health and wellness.
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“Sudden arthritis” is not a real medical condition, but the symptoms of arthritis namely, joint pain and swelling can develop very abruptly in some people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
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Arthritis can also come and go, so you could feel tip-top one day and wake up feeling sore and achy the next.
Here’s more on why arthritis might seem to come on all of a sudden, including when you should call a doctor about your symptoms.
Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors donât know exactly what causes this disease. But they know these things could be risk factors for RA:
Age. RA can affect you at any age, but itâs most common between 40 and 60. It isnât a normal part of aging.
Family history. If someone in your family has it, you may be more likely to get it.
Environment. A toxic chemical or infection in your environment can up your odds.
Gender. RA is more common in women than men. Itâs more likely in women who’ve never been pregnant and those who’ve recently given birth.
Obesity. Extra weight, especially if youâre under 55.
Smoking. If your genes already make you more likely to get RA, lighting up can raise your odds even higher. And if you do get the disease, smoking can make it worse.
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Should I See A Doctor
Its common to have aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time. This may especially be true if you take part in unusual or strenuous physical activities.
So, how can you tell the difference between the early signs of arthritis and normal pain and stiffness? And, how do you know when you should see a doctor about your symptoms?
If you have swelling or stiffness that you cant explain and that doesn’t go away in a few days, or if it becomes painful to touch your joints, you should see a doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis and start the right type of treatment, the better the outcome will be.
Here are some other things to think about that might help you decide whether you need to see a doctor: