Arthritis of the spine often develops in the lower back (lumbar region). This relatively common condition occurs when the protective cartilage that lines the spinal facet joints begins to break down and wear away. This can lead to stiff and painful bone-on-bone contact during movement.
While age-related wear and tear can affect joint cartilage throughout the entire body, the lower back is particularly prone to degeneration. One reason is that the lumbar spine must support much of the body’s weight through a wide range of motion. As a result, the lower back is subjected to a considerable amount of stress, which can accelerate the degenerative effects of aging.
Casual factors of spinal arthritis
By far, the most common cause of arthritis in the lower back is advanced age (the condition is frequently diagnosed in patients who are age 50 and older). Additionally, individuals who have one or more of the following characteristics are believed to have an increased risk of developing arthritis of the spine in the lower back:
- Excess body weight and obesity. Carrying even just a few extra pounds can significantly increase the pressure exerted on the body’s weight-bearing joints, including the facet joints in the lumbar spine.
- Overuse. Repetitive movements can take a toll on the spinal joints and hasten their breakdown.
- Injuries. Healed fractures and surgical sites can sometimes develop into post-traumatic arthritis. Also, to compensate for a painful injury in another part of the body such as a leg or foot, the spine may be forced to take on an additional weight burden that it is not designed to handle.
- Family history. Certain inherited traits, such as misshapen bones and misaligned joints, can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis.
Arthritis of the spine does not always require clinical treatment. Some people find that they are able to live relatively comfortably with the condition after adopting some healthy lifestyle practices, such as achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, stretching and exercising regularly and practicing good posture.
Surgery for arthritis in the lumbar spine
If your symptoms have progressed to the point that they are interfering with your daily activities and quality of life, you might want to explore your surgical options by contacting USA Spine Care. Our caring team can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure designed to address arthritis of the spine in the lower back.