Symptoms of arthritis of the spine

Arthritis of the spine is a degenerative spine condition that causes inflammation, swelling and stiffness in the facet joints of the spine. Because the facet joints allow the vertebrae of the spine to hinge and move, any swelling or inflammation in the joints can limit mobility in the spine.

Additional symptoms of arthritis of the spine include:

  • Back pain that comes and goes
  • Spinal stiffness in the morning after getting out of bed or after activity; this pain decreases with rest or, for some, after exercise
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in the neck, if nerve compression is involved
  • Lower back pain, weakness or numbness that runs down into the buttocks, thighs or pelvic area
  • Pain or tenderness in the shoulders, hips, knees or heels or at the joint in the spine
  • A crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone
  • Limited range of motion, difficulty bending or walking
  • Spinal deformity or abnormal curvature
  • Swelling and warmth in one or more joints, particularly during weather changes (which may be related to barometric pressure changes and cooling of the air)
  • Steady or intermittent pain in a joint, which is often described as an aching type of pain
  • A sensation of pinching, tingling or numbness in a nerve or the spinal cord, which can occur when bone spurs form at the edge of the joints of the spine and irritate the nerves

Arthritis of the spine symptoms

Osteoarthritis, which is another term for arthritis of the spine, is characterized primarily by stiffness and pain in the joints, although not everyone with osteoarthritis actually experiences these symptoms. The stiffness and pain tend to be worse in the morning and again in the evening, with improvement during the day as you perform your daily activities. A good indicator of this condition is pain and stiffness that awakens you during the night.

Pain by spinal region

Osteoarthritis pain in the lumbar region (lower back) can stem from nerve irritation from a herniated disc or from bone spurs and can cause weakness, numbness, tingling and/or pain in the legs that often radiates to the feet. Arthritis causing spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal, in the lower back can cause pain in both legs and may lead to difficulty walking.

Osteoarthritis pain in the cervical region (neck) tends to be worse in the morning and evening, with improvement during the day. This pain often radiates to the shoulder, between the shoulder blades and up the neck, causing headaches. With nerve compression or a herniated disc, there may also be weakness or numbness of one hand, certain fingers or sometimes even in both arms.

Compression of the spinal cord in the neck can even cause problems with walking. In severe cases, it can cause issues with bowel and bladder control. If you have a loss of bowel or bladder control, seek medical attention immediately.

Treatments for arthritis of the spine

The chronic pain associated with arthritis can negatively impact your quality of life. If left untreated, it can also lead to physiological problems, such as muscle breakdown or weakness, as well as psychological difficulties, such as anxiety and depression.

Following safe practices around your home and workplace can help you lower the risk of developing serious back problems, such as arthritis of the spine. The best tool you have at your disposal for combating back pain is education. Learn what the causes of arthritis of the spine are and you will know what activities you should avoid or how you can modify activities to make them safer.

However, if you have already developed this condition and are looking for treatment, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a minimally invasive facet thermal ablation procedure to address the pain caused by arthritis of the spine. Our procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

The facet thermal ablation procedure helps reduce the swelling and inflammation in the joints and also numbs the surrounding nerve roots to help reduce future pain. Because this procedure is performed with minimally invasive techniques, our patients experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication than patients who choose traditional open spine surgery.^

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain since 2005. If you have questions about osteoarthritis, please review our arthritis of the spine FAQ page. We are here to help you get back to the activities you love.

To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a no-cost MRI review.*