Arthritis of the spine — who can be affected?

Arthritis of the spine is a very common condition that affects the spinal facet joints. In healthy joints, the bone surfaces are coated with protective cartilage that allows for smooth movement. A joint can become inflamed if its cartilage is torn, worn away or otherwise damaged through trauma, causing a tiny nerve within the joint to transmit pain signals. Because the facet joints are very small relative to the amount of body weight they must bear, they are particularly susceptible to injury.

Many people associate arthritis solely with age-related degeneration. For this reason, the condition is often overlooked in children and young adults. This is concerning because spinal arthritis can develop at any age, and when left untreated, it can lead to serious problems down the road.

Some signs to watch for

In individuals who are middle-aged and older, low back pain is the trademark symptom of arthritis of the spine. However, juvenile-onset arthritis can produce additional symptoms that are slightly less obvious. These include:

  • Persistent or recurrent joint pain, especially affecting the neck or back
  • Pain in the knees, ankles and bottoms of the feet
  • Pain and stiffness that improve with physical activity and worsen with immobility
  • Swelling in joints and other areas of the body, such as the places where ligaments attach to bone

Seek the help of a physician

Regardless of your age, if you have any of these symptoms or otherwise think you might have arthritis of the spine, now is the time to get an official diagnosis from a physician. Neck and back pain can have many causes, and it’s important to find out exactly what’s going on so that you can be sure that you are addressing the problem in the best way possible.

While it can take some trial and error, many people who are diagnosed with arthritis of the spine find that they are able to manage their discomfort without surgery. However, if your pain continues to worsen and nothing seems to help, you might consider a surgical procedure to relieve your symptoms by addressing their underlying cause.

Laser Spine Institute

If you’ve reached this point, you should know that traditional open spine surgery may not be your only option. At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons perform minimally invasive outpatient surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ If you would like to find out if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive arthritis of the spine treatment, call for your initial consultation at our facility.