Spinal arthritis, and arthritis in general, affects millions of people. In fact, estimates show that more than 40 million people in the US are living with some form of arthritis.
Arthritis is most basically defined as joint inflammation. A multitude of different types of arthritis have been recognized. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two types familiar to many. Arthritis is a joint disorder that can occur in any part of the body, including the spine. The most common form of spinal arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is characterized by a loss of cartilage on the articular surfaces of facet joints. Cartilage is simply worn away with aging. Osteoarthritis is often accompanied by overgrowth of bone on the joint edges. This overgrown bone is called a bone spur or osteophyte.
Anyone can get spinal arthritis, however there are certain factors that put people at higher risk for developing it:
- Age – arthritis is most common in people over 50
- Gender – women are at higher risk (24.3 million women in the U.S. are doctor-diagnosed with arthritis)
- Overused joints from athletic activities or incorrect lifting and bending
- Obesity that places excess pressure on spinal joints
- Injury or trauma to the spine
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor nutrition
- Excessive use of alcohol
- A weakened immune system
Symptoms of spinal arthritis include neck and back pain, numbness, loss of motion, swollen joints, and a crunching feeling of bone rubbing against bone. These symptoms are similar to symptoms of other back problems. A physician uses blood test, MRI, X-ray, or CT scan to diagnose the correct condition.
Spine arthritis treatment options are widespread and vary depending on the severity of the condition. In general, a doctor begins with a conservative treatment plan such as exercise, rest, or hot and cold therapy. In more severe cases, spinal arthritis treatment may include prescription medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, or spinal injections. Surgery is only required in severe cases after the patient has exhausted other treatment options without successful symptom management.
Minimally invasive surgical spine techniques are available to treat spine arthritis symptoms effectively with fewer complications and shorter convalescent time than with traditional back surgery. At Laser Spine Institute (LSI), we offer minimally invasive endoscopic procedures that use state-of-the-art technology to treat conditions like spinal arthritis while reducing muscle and tissue damage. This allows a sooner return to normal activities with less surgical trauma. Contact LSI today to receive further information, or to schedule a complimentary MRI or CT scan review.