Degenerative spinal arthritis

Degenerative spinal arthritis, also referred to as osteoarthritis or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is an arthritic joint disorder in which the facet joints of the spine begin to degrade. In a healthy facet joint, cartilage and a layer of synovial fluid help to keep bone-on-bone friction minimal so that joints can move smoothly without causing pain. In the case of degenerative spinal arthritis, however, the cartilage degrades, turns brittle and can no longer support the joint movement. In fact, a common symptom is the feeling of grinding, which is the sensation of bone moving against bone.

Clinically known as osteoarthritis of the spine, degenerative spinal arthritis comes with other symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Throbbing sensation
  • Tenderness
  • Diminished flexibility
  • Stiffness
  • Locking of the joints
  • Radicular (radiating) pain

Often, degenerative spinal arthritis is confused with degenerative disc disease, but these are two separate conditions. Degenerative disc disease means that the cartilaginous discs between each vertebral body begin to weaken and break down, leading to conditions like herniated disc, bulging disc, muscle spasms and the growth of bone spurs. Degenerative spinal arthritis focuses specifically on the facet joints.

Both spinal arthritis and degenerative disc disease can contribute to spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of spaces in the spinal column that are designed to allow free passage of nerve roots and the spinal cord. Constriction of these passageways puts painful pressure on nerve tissue.

Arthritis also can cause bone spurs, or osteophytes. Spinal bone spurs are your body’s way of trying to reinforce the spine with extra pieces of bone growth on the vertebrae; however, this growth could further contribute to compression on the spinal nerves and result in even more pain.

If your physician has diagnosed you with degenerative spinal arthritis and a conservative treatment regimen of rest, physical therapy and pain medication has not adequately treated your symptoms, you could require surgery to relieve your pain. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that are a safer and effective^ alternative to traditional open spine surgery. These outpatient procedures are performed using small incisions and avoid unnecessary muscle tearing. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to receive more information about our minimally invasive procedures that can help you find relief from your degenerative spinal arthritis.