Arthritis of the spine grows in the joints of the back — the facet joints — that connect vertebrae to each other.
- The spinal column is composed of vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and cartilage that lines the joints of the vertebrae.
- At its core, the spinal cord is covered by the spinal column.
- The facet joints are lined with cartilage,
- The discs are filled with a substance that acts like a gel to support the spine.
The vertebrae and joints don’t have as much cushion when spinal discs start to dry up and cartilage starts to degrade from wear and tear and other factors. Therefore, the end outcome is bone pressing against bone, which is arthritis. The most prevalent type of arthritis in the back is osteoarthritis of the spine. Because the risk rises with age, older individuals are more susceptible to developing spinal osteoarthritis.
The most prevalent sign of spinal arthritis, which normally progresses gradually over time, is low back discomfort. Additionally, people may feel stiff and have a limited range of motion. Thus, joint mobility and pain control are the main goals of treatment for spine arthritis. For both kinds of spinal arthritis, doctors frequently advise nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to manage discomfort. This method of conservative spinal arthritis treatment, together with low-impact exercise and physical therapy, aids in preserving the range of motion. Typically, surgery is not required. Without treatment, the illness will worsen and make it harder for you to carry out your everyday tasks because of excruciating pain or restricted movement. Finally, spinal abnormalities can result from inflammatory spinal arthritis, which may potentially start to erode your bones.
Types of Spinal Arthritis
There are more than a hundred different kinds of arthritis, and the majority of them can harm the neck or back. Despite the fact that all forms of arthritis cause inflammation, they are divided into two groups according to their causes: inflammatory and noninflammatory (degenerative). The spinal vertebrae are susceptible to developing arthritis, as are all other joints in the body. The types of arthritis that are most common include:
An autoimmune condition, such as osteoarthritis, occurs when the immune system attacks itself. The synovium, which lines the joints, is attacked. Rheumatoid arthritis can damage the spine, particularly the cervical area, despite the fact that it is more frequent in other joints (neck). Spinal rheumatoid arthritis is inflammatory arthritis since it is not brought on by normal wear and tear. Even when these joints are not in use, it may nevertheless result in back discomfort (as well as pain in other joints). More often than not, it affects women more than males.
In terms of spinal arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent kind. Due to wear and tear, it typically affects the lower back. Inflammation and discomfort result from the gradual degradation of the cartilage between the joints. The pain is usually more pronounced when you bend or twist your back since it results from mechanical injury. Previous back injuries may also contribute to the development of osteoarthritis of the spine.
A category of inflammatory illnesses known as Spondyloarthritis affects both the joints and the places where the ligaments and tendons connect to the bones (entheses). Despite having an inflammatory origin, Spondyloarthritis is not the same as rheumatoid arthritis. There are a number of things that might make you more likely to get spine arthritis. Excessive weight, menopause, diabetes, heredity, past injuries, and repeated motions from particular jobs or hobbies that place too much strain on the spine are a few of these.
What are the Symptoms of Spinal Arthritis?
Spinal arthritis symptoms might vary from person to person. In general, they could consist of:
- Pain in the neck and back, particularly in the lower back
- Loss of flexibility and stiffness in the spine, which makes it difficult to bend your neck or straighten your back
- Swelling and pain across afflicted vertebrae,
- Shifting the spine causes a grinding sensation
- Other bodily parts may experience discomfort, edema, and stiffness
- Bodily weakness and exhaustion
- Your arms or legs may experience pain or numbness if your nerves are impacted.
- Despite being a frequent symptom, not everyone has back pain, not even those with severe spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some people can experience pain before arthritis is visible on an X-ray.
- Eye inflammation (iritis or uveitis) may occur in some kinds of Spondyloarthritis, resulting in discomfort, wet eyes, and impaired vision.
Causes of Spinal Arthritis
As a consequence of years of wear and use, the joints and cartilage throughout the spine have often deteriorated, which is the usual cause of spinal arthritis. Unfortunately, we still do not fully understand the cause of this. Osteoarthritis of the spine can occur in anybody, including people who have taken good care of themselves. There are, however, a number of risk factors that might increase your vulnerability to spine arthritis:
- Spinal trauma or injury
- If osteoarthritis runs in your genes,
- Doing a job that resulted in back pain from repeated stress
- Gender (females are more prone to acquire OA than men)
- Other ailments including diabetes, TB, Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gout, psoriasis, or irritable bowel syndrome
Diagnosing Spinal Arthritis
To diagnose spinal arthritis, your doctor may employ some or all of the diagnostic techniques listed below:
- Physical examination and medical history
- Blood testing for RA antibodies and/or genetic markers
- Spine X-rays to identify the arthritic joint
- To pinpoint the damage, identify nerve and spinal cord involvement, or rule out other reasons, utilize an MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan, or ultrasound.
- Testing the synovial fluid inside a joint is known as joint aspiration.
- Your doctor may provide an injection to the troublesome joint to help identify it, and then monitor the area to see whether the pain subsides.
Treating Spinal Arthritis
Numerous variables affect the course of spinal arthritis therapy. Furthermore, your age, amount of discomfort, the kind and severity of your arthritis, and your own personal health can determine which treatment the doctor will choose. Due to the fact that arthritis causes permanent joint damage, pain relief, maintaining spinal mobility, preventing abnormalities, and slowing the disease’s course are all goals of treatment for spinal arthritis. The majority of the time, non-surgical therapies may accomplish these objectives.
Many times, a combination of conservative, noninvasive treatments can effectively address the symptoms of spinal arthritis. These may consist of:
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for mild to moderate spine arthritis to lessen pain and inflammation. If the pain becomes severe, your doctor will prescribe stronger Medication.
Compresses that are both hot and cold
Hot or cold compresses can reduce back discomfort and inflammation from arthritis.
Low-impact physical therapy exercises can increase your range of motion, strengthen your back muscles, and reduce stiffness.
The use of oral or injectable steroids can minimize swelling and discomfort.
You could receive advice to eat healthier, stop smoking, consume less alcohol, and correct your posture. Your spine will experience less stress and inflammation as a result of these easy adjustments.
Your doctor may suggest surgery if conservative therapy does not relieve your symptoms. Many of these surgeries utilize arthroscopy, a less invasive technique, thanks to improvements in spine surgery methods. However, for certain people, open surgery may provide the best results. Before arranging the procedure, your spine surgeon will go over your alternatives with you. The following are illustrations of surgical techniques:
Spinal Cord Decompression Surgery
The spinal cord and nerves may occasionally get compressed as a result of severe arthritis of the spine, resulting in pain, numbness, and a restricted range of motion. To alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and free up the nerve roots, decompression surgery, also known as a laminectomy, involves removing a piece of the vertebra (lamina). Decompression surgery may involve several vertebrae.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
This procedure unites or fuses two or more spinal vertebrae together, frequently utilizing a minimally invasive technique. Also, this procedure addresses any spinal weakness or instability that may occur from severe spinal arthritis.
Excellent, Comprehensive Spinal Arthritis Care
Our Medical Practice at Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute with offices in Dallas, Plano, and Frisco, Texas has top-rated doctors with the experience and knowledge necessary to offer patients the best possible treatment for spinal arthritis. Additionally, we welcome new patients and invite you to make an appointment.
The Arthritis Foundation website: Spinal Arthritis
The Cleveland Clinic website: Spinal Arthritis
The Johns Hopkins Medicine website: Spinal Arthritis
Healthline: Spinal Arthritis
Ortho Spine America: Spinal Arthritis
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If you or your loved one suffers from back pain from a spinal condition, we can help. Call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.