Arthritis of the Spine

Arthritis of the spine, or spondylosis, is a type of osteoarthritis that is characterized by the pain, stiffness and inflammation of the facet joints connecting the vertebrae of the spine. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, yet osteoarthritis accounts for the majority of cases. The condition generally affects the knees, hips, hands and spine.


Causes


There are several causes of arthritis in the spine, but the condition is typically caused by age and normal wear and tear of the cartilage in the facet joints (zygapophysial joints or Z-joints). As we age, our joint cartilage begins to dehydrate and wear away due to prolonged use. This can lead to bone rubbing on bone and eventual joint pain and inflammation. Prolonged friction also can cause osteophytes, or bone spurs, to develop. These bony growths themselves can cause symptoms of pain, weakness, cramping, tingling and numbness if they impinge upon the spinal cord or a nerve root.


Other causes of osteoarthritis can include the following:


  • Obesity – Extra weight adds additional stresses on the spinal joints.
  • Genetics – Some people are predisposed to degenerative diseases that break down the body’s cartilage earlier than normal.
  • Injuries – Fractures that occur from trauma can hasten the effects of spondylosis.


Treatment


Your physician may initially recommend a series of conservative, or non-surgical, treatments for symptoms of spinal arthritis. These may include bed rest, pain medications, exercises and physical therapy. Often, conservative treatments are sufficient in treating neck and back pain from spondylosis, but in some cases, the pain may be too great. If you have arthritis in the spine, and conservative treatments have done nothing to alleviate your symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. We use advanced techniques to perform a variety of minimally invasive procedures. Our procedures are more effective alternatives to traditional open neck or back surgery.