What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine?
Causes Of Osteoarthritis
- This damage results in friction between the vertebrae, leading to inflammation.
- The swollen facet joint now transmits a pain signal through the nerve in the joint.
- This nerve message causes the back muscles to spasm.
- Those spasms, along with the joint inflammation, lead to lower back pain.
Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis has a full range of symptoms. There will usually be a combination of some of these symptoms:
- Back and/or neck stiffness and pain that is usually the worst when first waking up
- Pain that subsides during day, but tends to return in the evening
- Pain that disrupts sleep
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or arms if a nerve impinges
- Swelling and warmth in one or more joints, particularly during weather changes
How painful is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis of the spine can become quite uncomfortable. The condition may lead to narrowing in the spinal canal, resulting in nerve compression that causes various symptoms. Treatment for osteoarthritis is intended to minimize pain and improve range of motion. This can often be achieved without surgery. The earlier that osteoarthritis is accurately diagnosed and treated, the faster the patient may gain relief from uncomfortable aches and pains related to their condition.
Diagnosing Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
What should you not do with osteoarthritis?
People who have osteoarthritis in one or more spinal segments may be advised to attend physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Additionally, a doctor may recommend certain activity restrictions. These may include:
- Lifting or carrying heavy objects that place strain on the back and neck.
- If osteoarthritis affects the lumbar spine, the patient may be encouraged to avoid deep bends or twists at the waist.
- If osteoarthritis affects the cervical spine, the patient should avoid postures that place pressure on the head and neck, such as headstands.
- Patients should limit the amount of time they spend sitting at a desk if they notice that doing so causes pain and stiffness.
How can I prepare for Spinal Arthritis Treatment?
Many cases of spinal arthritis can be treated without surgery. Patients may manage their spinal health with lifestyle habits that promote weight loss or stability at a healthy weight, light physical activity, medication, rest, and physical therapy. There is no preparation needed to engage in these remedies for spinal arthritis. In the case of surgical treatment, patients receive detailed instructions regarding pre-operative habits and preparations like taking time off work, avoiding smoking, and obtaining necessary supplies.
Treatment For Spinal Arthritis
- Increases flexibility
- Improves mood and outlook
- Strengthens the heart
- Improves blood flow
- Allows the patient to perform everyday tasks
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When Is Spinal Surgery Needed?
Spinal Arthritis recovery
Many of the most common treatments for spinal osteoarthritis carry no downtime and no major side effects from which a patient has to recover. Surgical interventions for conditions related to osteoarthritis of the spine can vary and are designed around each patient’s unique situation. The vast majority of spinal procedures performed today are done using minimally-invasive surgical techniques. These minimize downtime and expedite optimal healing to a few days to a few weeks. When surgery is needed for spinal osteoarthritis, the specialist will discuss all aspects of the process, including what to expect in terms of recovery, side effects, and resuming normal activities.
What happens if Spinal Arthritis goes untreated?
Osteoarthritis of the spine, as with other forms of osteoarthritis, can progress if not properly managed. In the case of spinal arthritis, a lack of treatment could result in:
- Spinal stenosis, in which the spinal canal narrows.
- Radiculopathy, in which nerve compression causes severe nerve pain in the neck or back, arms, legs, or other areas.
Depending on the treatment that a patient receives for their osteoarthritis, pain and inflammation may recur. This can happen from time to time and is usually the result of overdoing physical activity. If you have spinal osteoarthritis, it is important to balance regular physical activity with rest and mindful movements that prevent too much stress on the spine.