Often referred to as degenerative joint disease, spinal arthritis (a form of osteoarthritis) is provoked by the degeneration of cartilage between spinal facet joints.
As this process becomes entrenched, vertebrae rub against each other causing irritation. In turn, this causes more damage, often taking the form of bone spurs. These press on adjacent nerves, provoking pain which radiates from the site.
Spinal arthritis arises due to several factors in combination and not one simple cause. Included are the following:
- Sex: Men under the age of 45 and women after menopause are prone to spinal arthritis. But people who are engaged in work which requires repetitive motion over time can develop the condition.
- Age: Aging causes the chemistry of synovial fluid and cartilage to change, which can cause degeneration.
- Genetics: If osteoarthritis is present in your family, you’re more vulnerable to spinal arthritis.
- Weight: Being overweight or obese puts tremendous strain on your joints, including your vertebrae.
- Other conditions: People with diabetes, other types of arthritis or long-term infections and other diseases should talk to their doctors about the risk of spinal arthritis.
Pain and stiffness in your joints which is worse on rising and later in the evening may signal you have spinal arthritis. Pain interrupting sleep is another symptom.
Swelling (especially if it wakes you up at night) is another key symptom, as well as tenderness at the site when pressed on.
Many spinal arthritis sufferers also experience a persistent ache which is made worse when moving around. Radiating pain which travels to the lower body is can also indicate spinal arthritis.
Because osteoarthritis becomes worse over time, people with symptoms like those above should be aware of their pain becoming more intense.
Treatment for Spinal Arthritis
Many people experiencing pain from spinal arthritis wait too long to see their doctors, believing the pain will resolve on its own.
But an early diagnosis is crucial to success in treating it. Once diagnosed, you doctor will design a plan of therapy.
It’s common for doctors to prescribe conservative therapies like movement and medication. The motivation will slow the condition’s progression, while the medication serves to control pain.
Most patients with spinal arthritis manage their condition with exercise and drug therapy. For those with severe pain, damage to the vertebrae and limited mobility, surgery is sometimes recommended.
Weight management will be prescribed for people whose weight is making the condition worse. As we stated earlier, the stress on your joints due to excess weight can provoke spinal arthritis, as well as arthritis in other joints, particularly the knees and hips.
We hope this brief overview about understanding spinal arthritis has answered some of your questions. If you’re experiencing the symptoms listed, or have a combination of key risk factors, we strongly counsel that you visit your doctor.
Spine Consult NJ
The Spine Consult team’s mission is to relieve pain, prompt healing and restore quality of life.
From conservative treatments through surgery, our services here allow us to address unique patient need. Contact us if you suspect you have spinal arthritis.