Spinal arthritis is the inflammation of joints in the spine that allow the vertebrae to hinge and move. These joints bear a large portion of the body’s weight, making them susceptible to wear and tear over the years.
Because spinal arthritis is often a degenerative spine condition, it develops over time due to certain factors and risks. It is important to be aware of these risks in order to promote a healthier spine. While spinal arthritis is not always avoidable, you may be able to postpone the development of this condition by avoiding certain activities and behaviors. To better recognize spinal arthritis risk factors, it is important to understand the condition itself.
Causes and symptoms of spinal arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis found in the spine and is caused by degeneration of the cartilage in the facet joints. This deterioration decreases the stability of the surrounding vertebrae causing inflammation and symptoms like aches, pains and stiffness. Often, the body also compensates by producing bone spurs. If one of these natural growths compresses a nearby nerve, local and radiating symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness can occur.
The most common risks for developing arthritis of the spine include:
- Age — people 50 or older are more likely to develop arthritis of the spine
- Overused joints — this may occur through repetitive lifting, bending or twisting, as well as constantly slouching while seated at a desk or driving
- Injury or trauma to bones — whiplash, compression fracture or other kinds of injuries can hasten the degradation of joints
- Obesity — excess body weight places more stress on the joints
- Genetics — inherited traits can make you more likely to develop arthritis
- Gender — women are twice as likely to develop arthritis
- Smoking — can decrease circulation of healthy nutrients and speed up the breakdown of spinal joints
- Other conditions — decreased blood supply, chronic illness, infection or a diminished immune system can contribute to joint degradation
Treating spinal arthritis symptoms
If this condition does develop and is diagnosed, many patients can find relief through conservative treatments designed to manage symptoms, relieve nerve compression and increase range of motion. Treatments such as physical therapy and yoga can help lengthen the spine while strengthening the surrounding muscles to help support the weight of the body and relieve some of the pressure off the spine. Other conservative treatments include pain medication, exercises and stretching.
If a full course of conservative methods are not enough to manage the symptoms associated with spinal arthritis, surgery may be suggested. At USA Spine Care, we provide minimally invasive spine surgery to treat spinal arthritis and the degenerative spine conditions that sometimes develop as a result of arthritis of the spine. Because of the minimally invasive nature of our spine surgery, our patients experience less risk of complication and no lengthy recovery when compared to traditional open back surgery.^ Contact USA Spine Care to learn more about our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures.
We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.
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