What Are The Parts Of A Joint
Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.
Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
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.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Arthritis
Points To Remember About Arthritis
- “Arthritis” means joint inflammation. Although joint inflammation is a symptom or sign rather than a specific diagnosis, the term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints.
- There are many types of arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Medications and surgery can treat arthritis.
- Activities that can help reduce symptoms at home include exercise hot and cold therapies relaxation therapies splints and braces and assistive devices.
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.
Don’t Miss: First Symptoms Of Ra
How Common Is Spinal Gout
Gout in the spine is extremely rare. A study published in 2016 in the European Spine Journal found only 131 cases described in medical journals. But Theodore Fields, MD, a rheumatologist at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, says its more common than we think.
Some early studies suggest there is more gout in the spine that we previously thought. Most doctors just arent looking for it, he says. Patients with spinal gout usually have a previous history of gout in other places.
Gout typically affects the big toe joint and other extremities first, including the knees and tips of the fingers. People often describe an attack of gout as being so painful they are unable to put on a shoe or drive to the hospital. However, Dr. Fields says it is certainly possible that someone could present with back pain as an initial symptom.
Gout can travel to almost any joint over time, says Dr. Fields. If someone has untreated gout for 10 to 20 years, it is not rare to get it in their fingers, wrists, cervical and lumbar joints, and even occasionally the elbows. The only place it is really rare to get gout is in the hip.
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:
Recommended Reading: How You Get Arthritis
Personal Stories About Hip Replacement Surgery For Osteoarthritis
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
I’ve always been active. I worked on the farm and also worked nights at the hospital for over 30 years. The pain in my hips has gotten so bad that it’s really hard for me to work, take care of the garden, or go for walks with my grandkids. I’ve seen people in the hospital with hip replacements, and I know what to expect. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m determined to get back to doing the things I enjoyâwith less pain.
Carrie, age 66
I never pictured myself as the type who would use a cane. But it helps a lot. I know that surgery is an option, but I don’t know who would take care of my sister at home while I was recovering in the hospital. And I don’t want to spend any time in a rehabilitation centre. So I’ll get by with my cane and my pain relievers as long as I can.
Elliot, age 73
I don’t remember when I had a good night’s sleep. My hip hurts when I walk, sit, or lie down. My doctor and I have talked about replacing my hip, and I know I may have to do that one day if things get worse, which my doctor says may or may not happen. I want surgery to be the last resort because the new hip could wear out before I die. For now, my doctor and I are going to try some different pain pills.
Gardner, age 54
Carma, age 68
Can You Prevent Arthritis
There is no single preventative measure for arthritis, especially considering all of the different forms that exist. But you can take steps to preserve joint function and mobility. These steps will also improve your overall quality of life.
Learning more about the disease can also help with early treatment. For example, if you know you have an autoimmune disorder, you can be mindful of early symptoms. The earlier you catch the disease and start treatment the better you may be able to delay the progression of the disease.
Some general recommendations as to how you can prevent arthritis include:
- Eating a Mediterranean-style diet. A diet of fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, beans, and whole grains may help with inflammation. Decreasing your intake of sugar, wheat, and gluten may also help.
- Eating a diet low in sugars. Sugars can contribute to inflammation and gout pain.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. This reduces the demands on your joints.
- Exercising regularly. Physical activity can help reduce pain, improve mood, and increase joint mobility and function.
- Refraining from smoking. The habit can worsen autoimmune disorders, and is a major risk-factor for rheumatoid arthritis
- Seeing your doctor for yearly check-ups. Remember to report any symptoms that may be related to arthritis.
- Wearing proper protective equipment. When playing sports or doing work, protective equipment can help prevent injuries.
Don’t Miss: How Can You Stop Arthritis In Your Hands
Early Signs Of Arthritis In The Back
- Wear and tear
- Professions involving lifting heavy machines or loads
Some of the early signs of arthritis in the back include
Some of the late signs of arthritis in the back include
- Pain that radiates to the arms and legs
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
- Loss of coordination or changes in the ability to walk
- Severe back spasm
Physical Therapy Guide To Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis of the spine is a condition that usually occurs with aging and is typically diagnosed after age 50. Its causes include injury to the spine, wear and tear on the discs of the spine , or an inherited tendency to develop OA. Sometimes the cause is unknown. OA of the spine may cause pain and stiffness, and make it difficult to bend over, perform weight-bearing activities, such as walking, and accomplish daily tasks such as dressing and bathing. Your physical therapist will help you manage your condition, lessen your discomfort, and get moving again.
Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
Read Also: Rheumatoid Arthritis Article
Is Cracking Your Back Bad For You
In moderation, the answer is no. Studies have shown that occasionally cracking your back can help relieve pressure in your spine without adverse effects. However, when done habitually, popping can cause excessive wear on your joints and potentially lead to premature breakdown.
Okay, so you have our official answer, now heres how we got to the conclusion:
It turns out that many smart, and a few reckless, people over the years have wondered what the effects of habitually cracking joints are. This being the case, there has been a lot research done on the topic.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of cracks and pops, we thought it would be helpful to help shed a little light on a few things:
We wanted to make sure that everyone knows what a joint actually is. Simple enough.
We wanted to explain why joints actually crack.
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.
Also Check: What To Do For Arthritis In Knee
How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Diagnosed
The best way to confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis is by X-ray. The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam to see if the person has pain, tenderness, loss of motion involving the neck or lower back, or if symptoms are suggestive, signs of nerve involvement such as weakness, reflex changes, or loss of sensation.
The doctor may order certain tests to aid in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the spine. These tests include:
- X-rays to look for bone damage, bone spurs, and loss of cartilage or disc however, X-rays are not able to show early damage to cartilage.
- Blood tests to exclude other diseases
- Magnetic resonance imaging to show possible damage to discs or narrowing of areas where spinal nerves exit
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.
Read Also: How To Deal With Arthritis
What Triggers An Arthritis Flare
Flare triggers are different for different types of arthritis.
Flare triggers are different for different types of arthritis.
If you have any type of arthritis, youve probably lived through a flare. A flare is a period of increased disease activity or worsening symptoms a time when the medications you normally rely on to control your disease dont seem to work. Many patients would also add that flares affect many other aspects of their life as well.
But why does this happen? According to Joseph Shanahan, MD, a rheumatologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and assistant consulting professor in the division of rheumatology, allergy, and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, The first thing I ask when a patient presents with a flare is whether they have been taking their medication as prescribed..
The causes of flares vary by disease so lets look at the triggers of each.
Inrheumatoid arthritis , a flare can be related to natural variations in the processes that cause inflammation. This means flares can vary in intensity, duration and frequency, but theyre usually reversible if treated promptly.
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the skin and joints. Nearly 30% of people with the skin disease, psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Most people with PsA say a psoriasis flare will often precede a flare of arthritis symptoms.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Can You Stop Arthritis In Your Hands