Life is Tough On Our Spine

Osteoarthritis can be confused with rheumatoid arthritis that attacks the joints, but it isn’t the same. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system goes after the joints, rather than providing immune protection. Osteoarthritis could be summed up by simply pointing to the march of time, literally. Over our lives our bodies absorb unending force when we do anything from walking to playing tennis, dancing to moving a couch. It deals with these forces all day every day and it takes a toll on our spinal discs and the bones of our spine.

We deal with the damage wrought by spinal osteoarthritis every day at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders.

What is osteoarthritis of the spine?

Osteoarthritis of the spine is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower back. Osteoarthritis is colloquially known as “wear and tear arthritis” because it develops from nothing more than the impacts and forces that our bodies absorb as we go through life.

Who gets osteoarthritis of the spine?

Osteoarthritis is usually a condition of older people. Younger people can get it due to an earlier injury, a genetic defect in their cartilage, or when they pursue sports that place repetitive stress on the joints. Obese people are more likely to get it because they are loading their spine with more weight.

What are the symptoms?

The answer is “it depends.” If bone spurs have developed on vertebrae due to degraded spinal discs, these spurs can put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column. That can create back pain at the site, or the pain can radiate to the areas served by the nerves.

In others, spinal osteoarthritis may lead to stiff necks and backs. It can cause weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if the nerves roots are being compressed enough. In these cases, when the person is lying down the pain goes away.

In lucky others, they have little impact at all on their activities.

How is spinal osteoarthritis treated?

At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we always begin with conservative treatment options. These include weight loss plans in obese patients, exercise regimens to strengthen the support muscles and add flexibility. We may prescribe physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and even epidural steroid injections can be effective.

Most patients can manage their spinal osteoarthritis without surgery, but in some cases where the spinal canal has narrowed, a condition known as spinal stenosis, surgery is really the only option to create more room for the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots.

If you’re suffering from back and neck pain, we need to see you at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders. Call us at (817) 916-4685. We have 10 offices to serve the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Posted in: Spinal Osteoarthritis

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