Degenerative arthritis of the spine, also known as osteoarthritis, is caused by breakdown of the cartilage within the spinal facet joints. It occurs primarily in people older than 50 and is much more common in women than men. This degenerative condition is generally a result of wear and tear, but also may be hastened by genetically-inherited conditions or spinal injury. The resulting spinal nerve compression and inflammation causes painful symptoms.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine include tenderness in the area of the affected joint, diminished flexibility, swelling, or the sensation of bone rubbing against bone. Numbness or tingling of the extremities may occur with nerve root compression. Not everyone experiences all of the symptoms, and some people experience sharper pain than others. If you experience neck or back pain, you should consult your doctor for accurate diagnosis. Most spine pain can be managed without surgery. Non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis and other painful conditions caused by degenerative arthritis of the spine include:
- Exercise to increase muscle strength around the affected spinal joints
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine
- Pain-reducing steroidal injections
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic therapy
If chronic neck or back pain due to spinal arthritis remains a problem despite non-surgical treatment, your doctor might suggest surgery as an option. Traditional open-back surgery will mean a long hospital stay and an even longer period of recuperation. The medical professionals at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) offer a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient alternatives. Contact LSI to find out how innovative endoscopic procedures performed by our award-winning doctors may help you rediscover a healthier, more active life.