Spinal Arthritis (spondylosis)
Spinal arthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that attacks the facet joints of the spine and breaks down the cartilage of those joints, causing pain, stiffness, and lack of motion and flexibility as the joints progressively degenerate and bone spurs form. Spinal arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is most commonly found in the neck and lower back.
There can be several reasons why a patient might develop spinal arthritis. Women are far more likely than men to develop arthritis, as are people over the age of fifty. Repetitive lifting or bending, as well as injury to the bones from accidents or trauma, can cause the joints to wear down. Excess weight places more stress on the joints. Chronic illness or infection, as well as smoking and excessive alcohol use also contribute to joint degradation. A family history of joint problems or arthritis also raises the risk of developing spinal arthritis.
The symptoms of spinal arthritis depend on where in the spine it is located. For arthritis in the upper portion of the spine, symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck that may or may not extend into the shoulders, arms, and hands. Arthritis in the lower region of the spine is usually accompanied by low back pain and stiffness, as well as pain that could radiate to the pelvis, buttocks, and legs. Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremities could also be present if the nerves in the joints have become compressed. Symptoms are typically worse in the morning or after extended periods of inactivity.
A conservative, nonsurgical approach to treatment can be effective in providing relief to people suffering from spinal arthritis. Activities such as yoga can lengthen the spine and strengthen core muscles, which helps relieve pressure on the spine. Exercise, stretching, and over the counter pain medication may also provide relief.
When conservative approaches do not provide adequate relief, minimally invasive non-surgical procedures typically provide good relief.
If you are suffering from spinal arthritis or other painful conditions, contact our office to set up a consultation with one of our interventional pain physicians.