If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from neck and back pain due to degenerative spinal arthritis, also called spinal osteoarthritis, you may have wondered what causes arthritis of the spine. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune disease. It is a degenerative condition that can be accelerated by a variety of factors, including aging, gender, obesity, disease, and genetic predisposition.
Spinal osteoarthritis of the spine is characterized by the gradual breakdown of the cartilage of the articular surfaces of within facet joints. Facet joints are the sliding joints that allow adjacent vertebral columns to flex and extend while blocking most rotation. Bone spurs, or osteophytes, can develop in arthritic joints. Bone spurs may lead to spinal stenosis and painful neural compression. Below are factors often accompanying spinal osteoarthritis:
- Aging – Deterioration of joint cartilage can begin as early as age 30, but accelerates after 50.
- Gender – In general, spinal arthritis is more common in post-menopausal women.
- Obesity – Excess weight put stress on the facet joints, contributing to cartilage deterioration.
- Disease – Gout, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and infections can cause spinal arthritis.
- Genetics – A family history of arthritis or other abnormal joint conditions increases your risk.
The majority of patients with spinal arthritis can manage their symptoms non-surgically through a conservative treatment regimen. Your doctor may suggest pain medication, hot/cold compresses, and gentle stretching, among others. If weeks or months of these treatments fail to offer lasting pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. We offer a variety of minimally invasive surgical procedures as an alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Our state-of-the-art endoscopic techniques have helped tens of thousands of spinal arthritis patients rediscover their lives without open spinal surgery. Request a complimentary review of your existing MRI or CT scan today.