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How painful is arthritis of the spine?

Arthritis of the spine can cause pain that ranges in intensity from mild to severe. However, this condition can also be completely devoid of symptoms. If discomfort occurs, it is usually related to a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of vertebrae where they come together in spinal facet joints. When this happens, even the simplest movements can cause irritation, further damage and the formation of bone spurs. These bony deposits can press on spinal nerves, causing pain and other symptoms.

What does spinal arthritis feel like?

In addition to steady or intermittent neck or back pain, arthritis of the spine can cause:

  • A stiff neck or back that worsens after sedentary periods, such as sleep, and improves with physical activity
  • Swelling and warmth in the spinal joints, which may be related to changes in weather (barometric pressure)
  • Tenderness when the spine is touched
  • Reduced spinal flexibility, such as an inability to bend over to pick up an object from the floor
  • A grinding sensation in the spine (crepitus) during movement
  • Numbness, tingling or electrical sensations that radiate from the spine through an arm or leg
  • Muscle weakness in an arm or leg
  • Sleep disruption

How is spinal arthritis treated?

Mild arthritis symptoms often respond well to a brief period of rest followed by physical therapy. If appropriate, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken as needed. While these and other conservative treatments may provide sufficient symptom relief, it’s important to understand that they cannot reverse the effects of arthritis of the spine, nor can they prevent further spinal degeneration.

The surgeons at USA Spine Care take a minimally invasive approach to treating arthritis of the spine. Contact us for personalized advice and guidance. We can provide you with a free MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.

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