What Causes Arthritis In Your Spine - ArthritisDaily.net (2022)

What Causes Oa Of The Spine

What Causes Arthritis In The Spine?

OA is caused by slow deterioration of cartilage around joints in the lower back. The exact cause of this deterioration is unknown, but some people have a higher risk for the disease. This includes individuals who have experienced a spine trauma.

Experiencing an injury at a younger age can make your cartilage break down much faster. Obesity can also play a role in OA of the spine because extra body weight puts added stress on the joints in your spine. Other risk factors include:

  • advancing age

Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Spine

Spinal arthritis causes stiffness and low back pain. The stiffness is worst upon waking up in the morning, tends to ease with activity, then worsens toward the end of the day. Presumably, this is because fluid has built up in the joint due to inactivity overnight, which causes more swelling.

The low back pain due to facet joint arthritis has a typical pattern:

  • The pain is mostly more than 80% in the back, runs into the buttocks, and often really feels like its in the hip.
  • As it gets even worse people often report burning on the outer aspect of the thigh, and sometimes pain down the leg.

Physical Therapy Guide To Osteoarthritis Of The Spine

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Osteoarthritis of the spine is a condition that usually occurs with aging and is typically diagnosed after age 50. Its causes include injury to the spine, wear and tear on the discs of the spine , or an inherited tendency to develop OA. Sometimes the cause is unknown. OA of the spine may cause pain and stiffness, and make it difficult to bend over, perform weight-bearing activities, such as walking, and accomplish daily tasks such as dressing and bathing. Your physical therapist will help you manage your condition, lessen your discomfort, and get moving again.

Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.

  • What Kind of Physical Therapist Do I Need?

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What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and the spine is one of the most commonly affected parts of the body. Osteoarthritis of the spine affects the back and neck.

Osteoarthritis of the neck is sometimes called cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis means arthritis in the spine, and cervical is the medical term for the neck.

The joints in your body go through a normal cycle of damage and repair during your lifetime. But sometimes the process your body goes through to repair joints can change their shape or structure. When these changes happen in one or more of your joints, its called osteoarthritis.

Having back or neck pain doesnt mean you have osteoarthritis. Most cases of neck and back pain only last a short while and will improve by themselves, without treatment.

A joint is where two or more bones meet. You have a number of facet joints that sit on either side of your spine and guide the movement of the bones in your back and neck.

There are 33 vertebrae in your spine these start at the top of your neck and run all the way down your back, to your tailbone.

The spine is sometimes called the vertebral column or spinal column. Its purpose is to protect your spinal cord, carry the weight of your body and help you move around. The spine is split into five sections cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.

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Strong ligaments surround your spine and support the vertebrae, to help keep them in place.

Disk Degeneration And Bone Spurs

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As the disks in the spine age, they lose height and begin to bulge. They also lose water content, begin to dry out and weaken. This problem causes settling, or collapse, of the disk spaces and loss of disk space height. Eventually, the cushioning qualities of the disks begins to decrease.

As the facet joints experience increased pressure, they also begin to degenerate and develop arthritis, similar to what may occur in the hip or knee joint. The smooth, slippery articular cartilage that covers and protects the joints wears away.

If the cartilage wears away completely, it can result in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for the lost cartilage, your body may respond by growing new bone in your facet joints to help support the vertebrae. Over time, this bone overgrowth called bone spurs may narrow the space for the nerves and spinal cord to pass through . Bone spurs may also lead to decreased range of motion in the spine.

Side view of a healthy cervical vertebra and disk. A disk that has degenerated and collapsed.

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Lifestyle Changes For Oa Of The Spine

Making healthy lifestyle changes can make it easier to live with osteoarthritis of the spine. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can improve symptoms and alleviate spinal pressure. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week is also effective. Exercise strengthens joints and improves range of motion. Other benefits of a regular exercise routine include better moods, a stronger heart, and increased blood flow. The more active you are, the easier it will be to manage everyday tasks without pain. Talk to your doctor about safe exercises. Options include walking, swimming, aerobic activities, yoga, pilates, tai chi, and strength training.

What Causes Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis in the back is often caused by . This condition occurs when the supportive intervertebral discs between each bony vertebra in the spine begin to wear down and lose their cushioning ability. Spinal joints run along the back, or posterior side of the spinal column connecting one vertebra to another. They allow you to move and bend your entire upper body. Less space between vertebrae due to disc disease increases pressure on the spinal joints. When the bones rub together, it causes pain and stiffnesstypically in the lower back.

Scientists arent certain about the cause of inflammatory spinal arthritis, but they believe it may be inherited. More than two dozen genes have been linked to the development of ankylosing spondylitis.

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Osteoarthritis Of The Spine

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of spinal arthritis. It usually affects the lower back and develops through wear and tear. As the cartilage between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it is typically more noticeable when you bend or twist your back. Past back injuries may also contribute to the development of degenerative arthritis of the spine.

Osteoarthritis of the spine usually affects the facet joints between the vertebrae. It is also known as facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome and facet disease. In some cases, degeneration of the spinal discs may contribute to facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.

When these degenerative changes occur in the neck, this condition is called cervical spondylosis. Arthritis in the neck doesnât always cause pain, and many people have no noticeable symptoms.

What Is Spinal Arthritis

Treatment for Arthritis of the Spine

Spinal arthritis occurs when the cartilage, joints and discs in your neck and lower back break down.

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It can affect any part of your spinal column and typically occurs in the facet joints, or vertebral joints.

Your facet joints are located in the rear part of your spine.

They connect your vertebrae together and make it possible for you to do things like bend, twist and stretch.

These joints are particularly prone to arthritis because of the pressure theyre under every day.

When the cartilage breaks down in your facet joints , daily activities can become more difficult.

If you have cervical arthritis, sometimes called neck arthritis, you will likely have pain in your neck and upper part of the spine.

Spinal osteoarthritis sufferers usually have neck pain as well as lower back pain. Low back pain can also be caused by lumbar arthritis.

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What Are The Symptoms

Facet joint degeneration can be painless until an event triggers symptoms. There are several symptoms that indicate a personâs pain is coming from the facet joints. The pain is often a diffuse, dull ache in the low back directly over the spine that can spread to the buttocks. In the neck it can be felt in the shoulders and back of the skull.

Movements such as bending backwards or twisting sideways towards the affected joint will cause pain. Standing or periods of inactivity may worsen the pain. Activities that take the weight off the joint such as sitting, leaning forward, or changing positions may ease the pain. Facet joint symptoms may also mimic the pain of a disc herniation. Pain may be felt down the arms or legs if bone spurs form and press on the spinal nerves. The pain may be chronic, or come in periodic flare-ups.

Common Forms Of Spine Arthritis

There are over 100 different forms of arthritis and many of them can affect the spine. The most common causes of spinal arthritis are wear, tear and degeneration of the spine and autoimmune disorders. Osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are 2 types of arthritis that frequently develop in the spine.

1.) Osteoarthritis. The most common type of arthritis of the spine is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by wear, tear and joint damage in the spine. Age, a history of back injuries and overuse from repetitive motions can cause the cartilage between spinal joints to break down, causing pain and inflammation at the joint sites. Although osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory form of arthritis, it does cause inflammation at the affected sites. Most people develop spine osteoarthritis in the low back.

2.) Ankylosing spondylitis. Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory form of arthritis. It causes inflammation at the spinal joints and at the sites where tendons and ligaments attach to the vertebrae. Joint pain and stiffness can develop and progress anywhere from the neck to the sacroiliac joints in the sacrum.

Other types of inflammatory arthritis can develop in the spine, but these forms occur less frequently:

  • Performing a job or activity that places repetitive stress on joints

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Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Spine

The treatment for osteoarthritis of the spine will depend on a host of factors, including which joints are affected, your age and state of health, and the presence of other conditions.

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The most common nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis include:

  • Medications to reduce pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy

Coping With Low Mood And Sleep Problems

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Living with pain can affect your mood and sleep, and its normal to feel low from time to time. If this is something that affects you, try going along to a pain clinic, where you can learn how to manage your pain. Theyll usually take place at outpatient clinics, and you can be referred to them by whoever is treating you.

Pain can be affected by different things, including feeling low or stressed. There are a number of talking therapies and techniques you can learn, which can help you manage your pain, support your emotional wellbeing, and deal with any low feelings you might have. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can help with osteoarthritis.

Learning to relax your muscles can also help, particularly if you have neck pain and are feeling stressed, as this can cause your muscles to become more tense.

A pillow thats too firm or thick can make neck pain worse. Try to sleep with your head level to the rest of your body. Its important to have a mattress that gives your head and spine proper support.

Try having a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio or a relaxation CD to wind down before bed. If pain is waking you during the night, try taking paracetamol or another painkiller before bed. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert for more advice.

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How To Treat Oa Of The Spine

Theres no cure for osteoarthritis of the spine, and the condition isnt reversible. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and to improve the mobility of the affected joint. Your doctor can discuss possible treatment options with you. Mild cases of OA of the spine may respond to over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen . Take this medication as directed to avoid liver damage. You can also relieve pain and inflammation with ibuprofen and naproxen sodium . Side effects of these medications include upset stomach, bleeding problems, and organ damage, so its important to take as directed.

If symptoms dont respond to over-the-counter medication, your doctor may suggest antidepressants used to treat chronic pain. Another option is a corticosteroid injection directly into affected joints. Surgery isnt a common treatment for OA of the spine, but in severe cases you doctor may recommend a procedure to replace damaged discs in your spine.

Other therapies for treating and coping with osteoarthritis of the spine include:

  • gentle exercises to reduce pain and improve range of motion in the remaining cartilage
  • heat or cold therapy

What Is Facet Joint Syndrome

Pain that comes from one or more facet joints is called facet joint syndrome or facet arthropathy. Degenerative changes in the spine may cause body weight to shift unevenly to the facet joints. This extra burden causes wear and tear on the joint and changes it over time: the joint capsule thins, smooth cartilage breaks down and becomes irregular like a cobblestone street, and bone spurs may form . Similar to arthritis of the knee joint, these changes make it difficult for the joint to move fluidly and it reacts by becoming inflamed and irritated. The irritated joint sends pain signals to the brain via small nerves in the capsule called medial branch sensory nerves . In turn, the muscles in the area can stiffen and spasm.

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What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Lower Back

Arthritis in the lower back or lumbar spine arthritis is a common problem in older people. It can also happen in obese and overweight individuals, heavy laborers and anyone with a previous history of spinal injuries.

The vertebrae in your backbone are separated from each other by cushion-like spinal discs in front of the spinal cord, while behind it they are connected by 2 small joints called facet joints. These facet joints, along with the spinal discs, allow movements such as forward bending, arching your back, or sideways twisting.

Arthritis in the lower back happens when protective cartilage wears out because of wear and tear, aging, injury or misuse. Your vertebrae rub together or start pressing on a nearby spinal nerve, leading to local pain and swelling.

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Usually when facet joints in your backbone become arthritic, movement and flexibility in your neck and back are affected and spinal movements become painful and stiff. This is lumbar spine arthritis, often seen together with other conditions such as spinal disc degeneration and spinal stenosis.

Arthritis in the lower back causes stiffness and pain in patients, especially in the early morning right after getting out of bed. Their backs may loosen up over the course of the day with light activity. Another typical feature is that symptoms often become worse with prolonged or strenuous activity.

Lower back arthritis is traditionally treated in several ways:

What Can You Do If You Have Spinal Osteoarthritis

Can arthritis of the spine cause back pain?

There are plenty of treatments for spinal arthritis. One of the best and most underutilized treatments for spinal osteoarthritis is doing back-strengthening exercises. Other treatments you can try on your own include using a warming pad or ice pack , using a topical pain reliever, losing excess weight, and taking a break from activities that aggravate pain.

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Arthritis And Your Spine

    Millions of people suffer from arthritis. In fact, arthritis affects approximately 80% of people over the age of 55 in the United States. It is estimated that by the year 2020, over 60 million people will suffer from this often-disabling problem.

    Arthritis can affect any part of the body, even the spine. The information provided in this article focuses on arthritis and the spine.Arthritis is actually a term for more than 100 rheumatoid disorders. Common forms include:

    • Systemic lupus erythematosus

    Arthritis can affect any part of the body, even the spine. The information provided in this article focuses on arthritis and the spine.

    The spine is made up of individual bones called vertebrae, which provide support for the spine. These vertebrae are connected in the front of the spine by intervertebral discs that help support the spine and also allow it to move. The many ligaments and muscles that are attached to the back of the spine provide the power for movement.

    Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints is worn down as a result of wear and tear, aging, injury, or misuse. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, also includes loss of cartilage, overgrowth of bone and the formation of bone spurs. This causes the bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint but most often occurs in the hips, knees, hands, or the spine.

    Are There Any Complications

    Some people who have osteoarthritis in their neck might have problems swallowing or when they speak, but this is not very common. This can be caused by bony spurs affecting blood supply to the spinal cord.

    If you have osteoarthritis of the spine, you may have other problems that may need treating. Let your doctor know urgently if you:

    • have trouble going for a wee, or feel like you need a wee when you dont
    • lose control of your bladder or bowel the organs that control wee and poo
    • have feelings of numbness or tingling around your genitals or bottom
    • lose power in your legs
    • feel unwell like having a fever or sweating.

    Spinal stenosis

    Spinal stenosis is a condition that happens when the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, gets narrower. The most common symptoms are pain and weakness or numbness in the area linked to the affected part of the spine such as the legs, arms, neck, back or shoulders.

    Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis, as the bony spurs that form on the edge of the vertebrae can irritate the nerves in your spine. It can usually be treated with exercise, over-the-counter drugs and steroid injections.

    Sometimes surgery will be needed to remove the spurs and make space in the vertebral column.

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      FAQs

      What causes arthritis in the spinal cord? ›

      Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear. Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.

      Is arthritis in spine serious? ›

      Severe arthritis of the spine can sometimes lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain, numbness and limited range of motion. Decompression surgery – also called a laminectomy – removes a portion of the vertebra (lamina) to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and free up the nerve roots.

      Can you get rid of arthritis in your spine? ›

      Although there is no cure for arthritis, related back pain can be relieved in most cases by conservative treatment and lifestyle changes.

      What type of arthritis affects the spine? ›

      Ankylosing spondylitis (pronounced ankle-oh-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss) is a form of arthritis that causes chronic (long-term) spine inflammation. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) inflames the sacroiliac joints located between the base of the spine and pelvis.

      Can arthritis in your spine paralyze you? ›

      Abstract. Background: Rheumatoid arthritis is sometimes associated with radiographic evidence of instability of the cervical spine, most commonly an abnormal subluxation between vertebrae. When this instability compromises the space that is available for the spinal cord, it may be predictive of paralysis.

      How common is arthritis in the spine? ›

      Lumbar spine osteoarthritis is very common, affecting an estimated 30% of males and 28% of females aged 55–64 in the United States. Various forms of arthritis can affect the lower back, including OA and spondyloarthritis.

      What is the treatment for spinal arthritis? ›

      Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases. Several signs and symptoms of facet joint disorders may be similar to other lower back conditions, such as degenerative disc disease.

      What are the 4 stages of osteoarthritis in the spine? ›

      Stage 1 (early or doubtful) Stage 2 (mild or minimal) Stage 3 (moderate) Stage 4 (severe)

      What kind of doctor treats arthritis of the spine? ›

      Rheumatologists are specialists in arthritis and diseases that involve bones, muscles and joints. They are trained to make difficult diagnoses and to treat all types of arthritis, especially those requiring complex treatment. You may be referred to an orthopedist if you have a type of degenerative arthritis.

      What does arthritis in spine feel like? ›

      Tenderness of the affected vertebrae. Feeling grinding when moving the spine. Tingling, numbness, weakness, or sharp shooting pains in your arms or legs if nerves of the spine are affected. Headaches (when the upper, or cervical, spine is affected)

      What is the best medicine for arthritis in the back? ›

      Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are generally the first-line treatment for arthritis in the back. Tylenol (acetaminophen) and NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen can help temporarily relieve pain and inflammation in the joints.

      How do you treat arthritis of the spine naturally? ›

      Join now.
      1. Manage your weight. Your weight can have a big impact on arthritis symptoms. ...
      2. Get enough exercise. If you have arthritis, exercise can help you: ...
      3. Use hot and cold therapy. ...
      4. Try acupuncture. ...
      5. Use meditation to cope with pain. ...
      6. Follow a healthy diet. ...
      7. Add turmeric to dishes. ...
      8. Get a massage.

      Can you end up in a wheelchair with osteoarthritis? ›

      Sadly for some Osteoarthritis can lead to need to using a wheelchair. The pain while often manageable with drugs can combine with joint stiffness and loss of dexterity to require the use of a wheelchair to help alleviate the conditions.

      How debilitating is spinal arthritis? ›

      Arthritis can affect any joints in the body, and that includes the spine. It's estimated that more than 34 million adults are living with osteoarthritis alone. When arthritis affects the spine it can be debilitating. In some cases, it can require surgery.

      How do you stop arthritis from getting worse? ›

      Slowing Osteoarthritis Progression
      1. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Excess weight puts additional pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. ...
      2. Control Blood Sugar. ...
      3. Get Physical. ...
      4. Protect Joints. ...
      5. Choose a Healthy Lifestyle.

      What causes osteoarthritis to progress quickly? ›

      Extra weight puts a lot of pressure on the hips and knees, which causes the cartilage in your joints to deteriorate quickly. Specifically, research shows a heightened rate of OA progression in obese people⁴ as compared to people with healthy weights.

      What is the main cause of osteoarthritis? ›

      What causes osteoarthritis? Primary osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, a rubbery material that eases the friction in your joints. It can happen in any joint but usually affects your fingers, thumbs, spine, hips, knees, or big toes. Osteoarthritis is more common in older people.

      What is the best treatment for osteoarthritis of the spine? ›

      Non-surgical treatments are the mainstay of osteoarthritis management, including spinal arthritis known as spondylosis. Anti-inflammatory medications, most commonly ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID), are used to reduce swelling and to relieve pain.

      What are the 4 stages of osteoarthritis in the spine? ›

      Stage 1 (early or doubtful) Stage 2 (mild or minimal) Stage 3 (moderate) Stage 4 (severe)

      How does arthritis affect the spinal cord? ›

      Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine can lead to neck pain, back pain, and/or pain that radiates into the legs or arms. In advanced cases, the joint deterioration in the spine can lead to compression of the spinal cord and/or the spinal nerve roots.

      What kind of doctor treats arthritis of the spine? ›

      Rheumatologists are specialists in arthritis and diseases that involve bones, muscles and joints. They are trained to make difficult diagnoses and to treat all types of arthritis, especially those requiring complex treatment. You may be referred to an orthopedist if you have a type of degenerative arthritis.

      How quickly does osteoarthritis spread? ›

      In extreme cases, some cases of osteoarthritis may remain stable for decades, while others progress very rapidly to complete destruction of the cartilage in the space of a few months. It is difficult if not impossible today to predict how fast the evolution of your osteoarthritis will be.

      How do you stop osteoarthritis from progressing? ›

      Slowing Osteoarthritis Progression
      1. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Excess weight puts additional pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. ...
      2. Control Blood Sugar. ...
      3. Get Physical. ...
      4. Protect Joints. ...
      5. Choose a Healthy Lifestyle.

      What causes osteoarthritis to progress quickly? ›

      Extra weight puts a lot of pressure on the hips and knees, which causes the cartilage in your joints to deteriorate quickly. Specifically, research shows a heightened rate of OA progression in obese people⁴ as compared to people with healthy weights.

      What is the main cause of osteoarthritis? ›

      What causes osteoarthritis? Primary osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, a rubbery material that eases the friction in your joints. It can happen in any joint but usually affects your fingers, thumbs, spine, hips, knees, or big toes. Osteoarthritis is more common in older people.

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