The anatomy of chronic arthritis pain

Chronic arthritis pain in the spine is a frustrating side effect of the natural aging process. As we age, our spinal anatomy naturally begins to gradually break down. Over the years, the wear and tear we put on our spine — even if we don’t realize it — takes its toll.

Consider the lower back. The lumbar spine provides our spine with the flexibility to rotate on an axis, pivot and bend and also supports the vast majority of the body’s weight. However, over time, this tremendous stress and constant motion wears down the vertebrae and can lead to arthritis — which is the degeneration of joints — in the spine. Chronic arthritis pain isn’t a symptom that can be “cured” in the traditional sense because it’s largely unavoidable, but the symptoms can be managed effectively with the help of a physician.

Causes of arthritis

While chronic arthritis pain can result from an injury, the symptom is more commonly associated with growing older. The vertebrae in the spine are separated by soft, thick pads known as spinal discs and are stabilized and interconnected by facet joints. These cartilaginous-coated joints glide (or articulate) over one another, which help provide the mobility of our neck and back. As the cartilage slowly breaks down, bone spurs develop as a result of bone-on-bone contact, soft tissue becomes inflamed and nerves can become compressed — all which lead to chronic arthritis pain.

Treatments

Treatment of chronic arthritis pain is interesting because it is not designed to cure arthritis; arthritis, as we understand it, has no cure. Instead, treatments are focused on relieving or managing the pain, and this is done a number of ways — ranging from noninvasive techniques to surgical adjustment:

  • Noninvasive — The most common treatments for patients experiencing arthritis pain are conservative in nature and are usually effective after several weeks. Pain medication, hot-cold therapy, low-impact exercises, stretching classes and rest are all possible options.
  • Pain management — Slightly more invasive and involved than at-home, noninvasive treatment, pain management techniques can include corticosteroid injections, acupuncture, TENS treatment, pain patches and more.
  • Surgical — Spine surgery is almost always viewed as a last resort when all other treatments have failed. Surgical options can include minimally invasive, outpatient procedures all the way to traditional open spine surgery and spinal fusion.

Laser Spine Institute

If you are experiencing chronic arthritis pain in the neck and/or back and conservative treatments have not provided you with the pain relief you desire, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Unlike traditional open back surgery, our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures offer our patients a streamlined experience, allowing them to avoid hospital-related costs and return to their lives and the things they enjoy as quickly as possible. Contact us today to speak to one of our Spine Care Consultants and to submit your most recent MRI report or CT scan for review.