The word ‘arthritis’ means the inflammation of joints. Spinal osteoarthritis refers to the inflammation of the facet joints of the vertebral column. Osteoarthritis of the vertebral column is a common cause of lumbar back pain nowadays specifically in the people of advancing age. There are 5 pairs of facet joints in the lower part of your vertebral column present on each side. These facet joints can be injured, swollen or can be subjected to any other insult leading to back pain.
Symptoms of Spinal Osteoarthritis
Signs and symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis may develop acutely but most often, it is a chronic process which develops slowly and aggravates with time. There may be many signs and symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis some of which are discussed following.
- Pain in the affected region is the first symptom of osteoarthritis. It occurs because the affected facet joints may hurt during motion. Sometimes the pain is not felt during motion but it takes place severely after the movement is over.
- Due to swelling, joints become stiff and movement is restricted. This process of joint stiffness is most prominent after a period of inactivity or after awakening.
- When the facet joints of your spinal column are swollen, no doubt you feel pain in your back. But this pain is aggravated when you exert light pressure to the affected region of back or near to it. It is called as tenderness.
- Loss of Flexibility. It is obvious that when the joints of your vertebral column are swollen and painful, the range of your motion is always affected because the joints play the key role in the movement of your body.
- Grating Sensation. When your joints of the spinal column are inflamed and you use these joints, you may hear crackling or popping sounds and sometimes you may feel a grating sensation when you make use of these joints.
- Bone Spurs. These are the shelf like projections of bone which are felt like hard lumps and bumps. They might form around the affected joint due to degenerative processes.
- Soft Tissue Swelling. Soft tissues around the joints, i.e. muscles, ligaments, and nerves may also be involved and inflamed. The signs of inflammation, i.e. redness, pain, swelling, and erythema are obvious through the skin.
- Weakness or Numbness in the Extremities. In the case of osteoarthritis, weakness, numbness and tingling sensations in the upper and lower extremities is common. It takes place due to nerve impinging.
Causes of Spinal Osteoarthritis
The underlying cause of osteoarthritis of the vertebral column isa slow degeneration process of cartilage around joints in the affected region of the back. Some people have the high-risk potential of developing this degeneration process like the persons who have suffered from a trauma of spinal column. Some of the risk factors are described as following.
- Obesity is a leading cause of spinal osteoarthritis process of the vertebral column. This is so extra body weight puts extra pressure to the joints which are thus strained and degeneration process is aggravated.
- Advancing age. The people above the age of forty are at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis in the body including the spine. The underlying mechanism is the age-related degenerative process of bones.
- Female gender. Being a female always puts you prone to some diseases like all kinds of autoimmune diseases and bone diseases including osteoarthritis. One reason can be said that after menopause, bones become weak and wear and tear changes are enhanced.
- Occupation involving repetitive stress. If you are working in an environment that puts you prone to repetitive stress, then you are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis. One example of such an occupation can be given as heavy weight lifting.
- Family history. It is proven from studies that the osteoarthritis has also some genetic role. If your first-degree relative has osteoarthritis, then you are at increased risk of having this disease because of genetic factors.
- Congenital joints defect. If some person is born with congenitally weak joints and bones, obviously he is in the red zone of developing bones and joints diseases including osteoarthritis.
- Cigarette smoking. It is proven from research that nicotine decreases the blood supply to the intervertebral discs which already have compromised blood supply and thus your inflammation and pain enhances. Smokers are at a greater risk of developing back pain.
Initial management includes lifestyle modification including weight reduction, quit smoking and performing regular exercise. Exercise helps in the following ways.
- It enhances the flexibility of your joints.
- It improves your mood and attitude in daily life.
- It makes your cardiovascular system stronger.
- It improves your blood circulation.
- It makes you more active and improves your performance in daily activities.
You may choose exercise after consultation with your doctor. You may perform swimming, walking and aerobics exercises in this situation. Exercises are divided into the following categories.
- Strengthening exercises. These exercises make your muscles stronger so that they are better able to support your vertebral column. They work via a resistance method by using weights.
- Aerobic exercises. These exercises make your heart and circulatory system stronger and improve your blood flow.
- Range of motion exercises. These exercises tend to improve the flexibility of your body.
Backrack™ Device – The Most Way To Treat Osteoarthritis
Through following a specially designed program of exercise, Backrack™ helps you treat Osteoarthritis and many other spine related problems without taking any medicine.
Other Non-drug Treatments
There are some non-drug treatments that can be used for osteoarthritis which are following.
- Massage therapy
- Cold or hot compressors which involve placing hot fomentation or ice onto the involved joint. Ice causes vasoconstriction and thus swelling is reduced. Heat enhances blood flow and thus you feel improvement in your symptoms.
- Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. This involves using a tiny device that emits electrical impulses in moderate range on the affected part.
- Nutritional supplements.
The first aim of medical treatment is to reduce pain. NSAIDs are the mainstay of treatment in this regard. Commonly used drugs of this family are aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, and some other drugs. Topical ointments and creams are also applied through the skin on the affected part and absorbed through the skin. Examples can be given as Ben-Gay and Aspercreme but we do not recommend to take any medicine before consulting your health provider.
Author: Spinal Backrack