Spinal arthritis causes patients to experience a great deal of discomfort in the neck, back, hips, shoulders, and/or extremities. The condition, also called osteoarthritis, is typically caused by nothing more than the natural aging process, since years of wear and tear can cause the cartilaginous lining of the joints to deteriorate. While there is no cure for spinal arthritis, several treatment options may help many patients’ symptoms to abate.
Spinal arthritis causes most patients to experience the following symptoms:
- Stiffness, especially first thing in the morning
- The sensation of bone rubbing against bone
- Limited range of motion
The location of a patient’s spinal arthritis symptoms will vary depending on which region of the spine is affected. Cervical spinal arthritis causes patients to experience symptoms in the neck, upper back, shoulders, and/or arms. Those with thoracic spinal arthritis may have discomfort in the middle back, ribs, torso, and what feels like the inner organs. Lumbar spinal stenosis presents with symptoms in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and/or legs.
Though aging is the primary cause of spinal arthritis, other factors can lead to the development of premature deterioration of the spinal joints. Being overweight, using tobacco products, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, having a sedentary lifestyle, and participating in high-impact sports can all negatively affect the spine. As a general rule, individuals should try their best to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes moderate amounts of low-impact exercise in order to maintain a strong spine.
A number of noninvasive treatments are available for patients with spinal arthritis, including over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and the use of hot and/or cold compresses.