Arthritis of the spine — causes and treatments

Receiving a diagnosis for arthritis of the spine can be a cause for concern. After all, when most people think of arthritis, they think of a condition that can affect joints throughout the body, and gets progressively worse over time. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common of the many forms of arthritis, and it results from the deterioration of the cartilage that lines joints and eases their movements. Over years of use, the cartilage gets worn away and causes joint inflammation, aches and stiffness.

Risk factors for spinal arthritis

When it comes to the spine, there are several components that are vulnerable to deterioration due to the daily stress placed upon them. The facet joints, which allow the vertebrae of the spine to flex and move, are often affected by spinal arthritis, leading to bone rubbing against bone and causing the facet joints to ache. The contact also can stimulate the growth of bone spurs in these joints, possibly leading to decreased range of motion or joint stiffness. In some cases, bone spurs can compress the nerves of the spine, leading to shooting pain, numbness or a tingling sensation.

These complications might have you wondering what risk factors are linked to arthritis of the spine. Aside from the natural aging process, here are a few of the factors that are related to spinal osteoarthritis:

  • Genetic predisposition. If close family members have suffered from arthritis in the past, you are likely at risk for the condition as well, according to current research.
  • Gender. Women are more likely than men to experience the effects of arthritis, particularly after the onset of menopause.
  • Traumatic incidents. Damage to the spine received during an automobile accident, a hard hit during a contact sport or another source of trauma can all contribute to joint degeneration.
  • Smoking. Smoking decreases the body’s circulation, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can be absorbed by the spine.
  • Obesity. Excess body weight places undue stress on the spine, accelerating cartilage degeneration.

Treatments for arthritis of the spine

Relieving the symptoms caused by arthritis of the spine can often be achieved through conservative measures, such as taking anti-inflammatory or pain medication, therapeutic massage, physical therapy, facet joint injections and hot/cold therapy. If, after weeks or months of doctor-guided treatment, symptoms do not improve or they suddenly worsen, you may be referred to a specialist for a surgical consultation. In this case, be sure to research all of your options. At Laser Spine Institute our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures, offering a streamlined outpatient experience. Contact our caring team today to learn more.

We can help you receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.