What is fluorosis in the spine?

Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease that is caused by an excessive level of fluoride in the body. This disease can affect any bone or joint, including those in the neck and back. In the spine, skeletal fluorosis can lead to calcified spinal ligaments or softened vertebrae. In turn, this could cause a narrowing or restriction of the spinal canal, which is a condition known as spinal stenosis. It is extremely rare for skeletal fluorosis to be a cause of spinal stenosis in the United States, but fluorosis is more common in some heavily populated countries, including China and India.

Fluorosis has been associated with chronically inhaling dust or gas contaminated with fluoride in industries such as coal mining in China. Fluoride-contaminated groundwater has led to the higher occurrence of the condition in certain parts of India. It should be noted that these are levels considered far above those recommended by the United States government. There is also some evidence that the high fluoride content in certain kinds of instant tea could lead to the condition if overconsumed. Read on to learn more about the conditions similar to skeletal fluorosis and the treatment options available for these debilitating symptoms.

Similar conditions to skeletal fluorosis

While fluorosis is rarely diagnosed in the United States, some symptoms of fluorosis can closely resemble those of a much more common condition such as osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis.

These shared symptoms include:

  • Neck and back pain
  • Stiffness in the spinal joints
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands or legs
  • Traveling pain to the shoulders, arms, hips or legs

Treating your skeletal fluorosis symptoms

Because fluorosis is so rare in the United States, the medical community has not established a regular treatment plan for the condition. If for any reason you suspect that the chronic neck or back pain taking you away from the people and things you love is related to fluorosis, the first step should be to consult your doctor for a full exam and diagnosis.

Once you receive an official diagnosis, your doctor will begin to work with you to develop a treatment plan. The pain from many spine conditions can be successfully treated with conservative therapies. Some examples include rest, diet, exercise plans and over-the-counter medication. If you have pain from a condition like spinal stenosis and have not found relief after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, you may start looking into surgical options, such as the minimally invasive spine surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute.

The board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute perform a variety of minimally invasive procedures that help our patients find relief from neck and back pain. Our procedures use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to alleviate symptoms while resulting in less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open neck and back surgery.^ Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our treatments for alleviating the symptoms similar to skeletal fluorosis.

Since 2005, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient procedures.

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