Of the various types of spinal arthritis, the type affecting over 30 million people in the United States alone is called osteoarthritis, which is, basically, the wear and tear and subsequent inflammation of the spinal joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease and can lead to debilitating pain and loss of function.
In this article, we take a closer look at spinal arthritis and its relationship to back pain.
What Is Spinal Arthritis?
Spinal arthritis is one of the common causes of back pain. Spinal arthritis is the mechanical breakdown of the cartilage between the aligning facet joints in the back portion (posterior) of the spine that quite often leads to mechanically induced pain. The facet joints (also called vertebral joints or zygophyseal joints) become inflamed and progressive joint degeneration creates more frictional pain. Back motion and flexibility decrease in proportion to the progression of back pain induced while standing, sitting and even walking.
Over time, bone spurs (small irregular growths on the bone also called osteophytes) typically form on the facet joints and even around the spinal vertebrae. These bone spurs are a response to joint instability and are nature’s attempt to help return stability to the joint. The enlargement of the normal bony structure indicates degeneration of the spine. Bone spurs are also seen as a normal part of aging and do not directly cause pain, but may become so large as to cause irritation or entrapment of nerves passing through spinal structures, and may result in diminished room for the nerves to pass (spinal stenosis). (Read full article here)
Treatment of Spinal Arthritis
Treatment of Spinal Arthritis
Initial treatment for spinal arthritis usually includes rest and the use of anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasm, and occasionally the use of oral steroids to reduce inflammation and pain.
Other nonsurgical treatment options for spinal arthritis include physical therapy, chiropractic, or facet joint injections. Although there is no strong evidence that facet joint injections work, they seem to have some good short-term benefits with few negative side effects.
Surgery for Spinal Arthritis
Because spinal arthritis has been identified as a primary source of chronic low back pain in about 15% of the cases, spinal surgery is rarely considered. However, if conservative treatment has failed and the back pain is limiting function, surgical intervention may be considered. The two primary surgical options for spinal arthritis include facet rhizotomy and posterior lumbar fusion.
Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, spinal arthritis has been blamed as a primary source of back pain. According to the most up to date medical research, the development of spinal arthritis is inevitable and has no predictable relationship to low back pain. (Read full article here)
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