Spinal arthritis overview

Arthritis is most basically defined as joint inflammation. Spinal arthritis, and arthritis in general, affects millions of people. In fact, estimates show that more than 40 million people in the United States are living with some form of arthritis, and it’s a leading cause of disability.

A multitude of different types of arthritis have been recognized, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 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 skeletal 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 a 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
  • Smoking
  • 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, so it can be difficult to accurately diagnose spinal arthritis. A physician uses a blood test, MRI, X-ray or CT scan to properly diagnose the condition.

Spine arthritis treatment options are widespread and vary depending on the severity of the condition. In general, a physician 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.

If you have been diagnosed with spinal arthritis and conservative treatments have failed to relieve your symptoms, Laser Spine Institute understands your frustration and is here to help. We offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that use state-of-the-art technology to treat conditions like spinal arthritis while reducing muscle and tissue damage. Our minimally invasive spine techniques treat spine arthritis symptoms effectively with fewer complications and shorter recovery times^ than with traditional back surgery. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule a consultation.