Arthritis is a common degenerative joint disease. This condition consists of the wearing down of the protective cartilage that cushions the tops of the bones and results in joint pain and swelling in that area. This condition may further lead to osteophytes or bone spurs.
What Is Arthritis of the Spine?
Spinal Arthritis is a breakdown of the joints and discs cartilage. This usually takes place in the neck and lower back. In some cases, spurs get produced that put pressure on nerves escaping the spinal column. As a result, weakness and pain in the legs and arms may be observed.
There are a few types of arthritis that may affect one’s back. Osteoarthritis of the spine, also referred to as simply osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis that occurs due to the aging of the spine and it is the most common type to occur.
Other types include rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, as well as spondyloarthritis, an inflammatory disease, which in turn includes several sub-types, one of them being ankylosing spondylitis.
Who Develops Spinal Arthritis?
Generally, spinal arthritis happens as people age. Younger people usually get it from a number of other reasons.
- An injury or trauma to a joint, including the sacroiliac joint
- A cartilage defect related to genetics
Spinal Arthritis is more common in men usually younger than the age of 45. It is more common among women once they cross the age of 45. Spinal Arthritis attacks are more frequent in people who are obese. It is also common in people with jobs that put repetitive stress on certain joints.
How to Recognise Spinal Arthritis
The first indicator of arthritis of the spine may be pain and stiffness in the back. That may extend to include weakness or numbness in the legs or arms which is severe enough to affect spinal nerves or the spinal cord.
Discomfort in the lumbar spine usually gets relieved when a person lies down. The intensity of these symptoms varies from bothering some people a little to severely disabling others.
Along with the physical factors that affect a patient, the emotional and social problems also follow up. For instance, any person experiencing spinal arthritis may find that it’s hindering their daily job performance and may feel depressed and hopeless.
How Spinal Arthritis Gets Diagnosed
One of the most convenient ways to diagnose the arthritis is by X-ray. A medical history will be required in this case by the doctor. A thorough physical exam will then be performed to see if the person has pain, any tenderness, and loss of motion surrounding the lower back.
If there are any positive signs of any nerve involvement (weakness, reflex changes, loss of sensation), the doctor may then prescribe some tests to aid in the diagnosis of spinal arthritis, such as blood tests or MRI scans that will reveal possible damage to discs or narrowing of areas of the spinal nerves and canal (spinal stenosis).
What Treatment Options to Consider
Mostly treatments for arthritis generally aim to reduce pain and increase a person’s physical abilities to function. The ultimate goal is to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Initial stages of treatment may consist of an exercise regimen which may help with weight management on top of restoring mobility and other benefits such as:
- Increase in flexibility
- Boost in attitude and mood
- Strengthening the heart
- Improving the flow of blood
- Easing everyday tasks
Types of exercises that may be helpful are listed below:
- Strengthening exercises – These exercises are geared towards making the muscles stronger that supports the joints. This includes making use of weights or rubber bands.
- Aerobic exercises – These exercises are best for strengthening the heart by ensuring a stronger circulatory system.
- Range-of-motion exercises – These exercises make the body more flexible.
Some exercises that will help reduce the symptoms of arthritis include swimming, walking, and water aerobics.
Rest periods are necessary as part of the treatment plan. However, bed rest, splints, bracing or traction that extends for long periods of time should be avoided.
There are some medication-free treatment options for Spinal arthritis, including:
- Heat or cold compresses treatment, which refers to placing ice or heated compresses onto the affected areas (check with your doctor about most suited option for you)
- TENS, which is a small device that emits electrical pulses onto the affected area this device is known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- An aid of nutritional supplements
- Physical therapy
If none of these approaches work, it is recommended that you seek medical advice as soon as possible. Your doctor can also recommend some prescription medication in this case to relieve pain, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
There are no medications that can reverse the process. These prescriptions include a variety of painkillers, mild narcotics, and corticosteroids injections. Some injections around the spinal column known as epidural steroid injections can also be used.
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Author: Spinal Backrack