In our everyday lives, we use our back to support every move that we make. And we may sometimes forget to address the health problems concerning our back. From time to time, you might experience pain in your back, especially on your spine.
One of the most common pain that you will encounter might be caused by spinal arthritis. Enduring such pain will hamper your everyday activities. With proper knowledge, you can prevent or treat arthritis in the spine.
What is Arthritis of the Spine?
This simply occurs in your joints. When your cartilage performs its role as the pad between your bones and gets the pressure that is brought to your joints as you move. Your cartilage is always prone to damage because of the several factors that we are encountering every day.
In fact, in the United States alone, people who are diagnosed by the doctor having a certain kind of arthritis is more than 50 million. Even though some wouldn’t consider arthritis of the spine as a variety of arthritis, they also experience a similar intensity of pain in the spine’s lumbar area.
Having inflammation in your spine brings unbearable pain and weakening to some. Commonly, it occurs in people ages 40 and above. If you have this type of spine problem, it is possible that you will be left bedridden. Also, you won’t be able to join your regular activities because of the severe pain in your spine.
Although the pain might seem a normal back pain, it can cause several physiological problems such as depression and anxiety, if left uncured. Aside from that, it can also trigger weakness and breakdown of your muscles.
It is called arthritis in the spine because of the damage in the joint cartilage. It disappears as the outcome of the following:
- Past injuries
What are the causes of spinal arthritis?
It is important to know what causes arthritis in the spine to avoid further complications. You might also find out why your condition is worsening with the help of these causes. If you know the cause, then there is a higher chance that you can prevent having this type of arthritis.
Here are the several causes of spinal arthritis that you should be aware of:
- Gender: Although gout is more prevalent in men, research says that women are the ones who are most likely to get arthritis.
- Age: As we age, our bones start to deteriorate. You will also lose some bone mass, hence increasing your vulnerability to arthritis of the spine.
- Swelling: If the joint starts to swell and you are not able to treat it, your arthritis has a greater possibility to progress.
- Obesity: This affects almost everything in your body. And arthritis made no exception from this.
- Deteriorating cartilage: The pad between your bones, the cartilage, will start to weaken as you age.
- Bone spurs: This is a tiny and abnormal outcome of your bones. It can trigger tension in your joints that will eventually bring you discomfort.
- Injuries:If you suffered inflammation or other injuries from the past, your cartilage might become weaker, making you more prone to arthritis. Also, injuries can affect your spine through the nerves. It becomes compacted or pinch, hence excruciating pain will be felt.
Aside from all of these components, imbalances in your body systems can also be one of the spinal arthritis causes. These may occur if you are experiencing unevenness in your nutritional levels, stress levels and hormone levels. If you have a muscle imbalance, your posture will be greatly affected.
What are the symptoms of spinal arthritis?
If you think that you have arthritis in the spine, you might be experiencing several discomfort and pain. It may be a sudden or gradual ache. Yet, the best thing to do is to know if you have any of these spinal arthritis symptoms to get the proper medications.
- Back pain, which occurs all of a sudden then fades away.
- Stiffness in your spine every morning
- Pain, numbness and swelling in several parts of your body such as neck, knees, hips, heels or shoulders.
- Wide-ranged lower back pain
- Feeble legs and arms
- Chomping sound of bone contacts.
- Difficulty in walking or bending
- Swelling of joints
- Minor fever
- Deformed joints
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
Having a majority of these symptoms is a huge sign that you need medical attention. Although the symptom will vary in the intensity for every person, it is always better to receive proper medication as early as possible. Treatment will be harder if you address your spine problem later.
What are the available spinal arthritis treatment?
Once you have been diagnosed with spinal arthritis, it is only normal you should consider potential treatments. While you might think that surgery is a common choice, you need to know that there are plenty of other options available. Conservative treatments can provide significant relief from the symptoms experienced, allowing you to feel better overall.
The most important thing that you need to remember is that spinal arthritis cannot be cured. However, with the help of conservative treatments, you can keep the condition under control and even stop it from progressing. Such treatments are also meant to help you experience less discomfort, with an improvement in the joint function, mobility and range of motion. In deciding on a particular treatment, your attending physician will most likely consider your age, general health and how severe the arthritis actually is.
It is also worth mentioning that each patient responds differently to a treatment. Moreover, you should not expect for a treatment to provide results, just because others have obtained them. The physician is responsible for developing a customized, comprehensive treatment plan; he/she will also instruct you to be patient, as certain treatments will take longer to act than others. Your age will be a determining factor in the choice of conservative treatments – it goes without saying that a healthy, active person requires a different treatment approach in comparison to an elderly patient.
These are some of the most common conservative measures you should consider for your condition:
- Recommended: low-impact exercises, stretching
- Goals – weight loss, increased flexibility and strain relief (spine)
- Muscle strengthening & better support for the spine
- Temporary relief from the pain
- Only in limited amounts – one should avoid becoming sedentary, as prolonged periods of inactivity can aggravate arthritis
Hot & cold therapy
- Heat applications (heating pad) – promote healing process & improved blood circulation in the affected area
- Cold applications (icepacks) – pain relief, reduction of inflammation
- Recommended: NSAIDs
- Anti-inflammatory & pain relieving properties
- For more severe cases – pain medication (opiates), muscle relaxers, antidepressants (to deal with the psychological effects), topical pain relieve like Joint-Ritis
- Weight loss diet for overweight patients
- Reduction of alcohol intake
- Improvement of general posture
- Quitting smoking
Complementary & alternative treatment methods
- Recommended: deep tissue massage, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy
- Note: always consult with your physician before pursuing any complementary or alternative treatment method
Facet joint injections
- Steroid medication injected directly into the affected joints (after the local anesthetic)
- Can be used to diagnose spinal arthritis (complete pain relief after the injection – correct diagnosis)
- Anti-inflammatory & pain relieving properties (long term effect)
- Can be used to reduce the intensity & frequency of the symptoms, allowing the patient to pursue other forms of treatment (physical therapy).
- Recommended when conservative treatments have tried failed to provide results (no pain relief in particular)
- Last resort – no other treatment approach proved to be effective
- Before consenting to any surgical intervention, it is recommended to get professional opinions from other specialists
- Options available – regular intervention in traditional hospital setting or minimally-invasive interventions in outpatient setting
- Decompression/stabilization procedure – recommended minimally-invasive intervention
- Small incision, better recovery & faster healing
- Muscle-sparing techniques – these reduce the risk of postoperative complications & provide the patient with the ability of starting rehabilitation sooner
- Traditional surgical intervention – bigger incision, longer time to recover and higher risk of complications
- MRI investigation performed to determine how severe the spinal arthritis is and whether you are a suitable candidate for minimally-invasive procedures or not.
As the time goes by, arthritis is rapidly becoming a common thing. And spinal arthritis made no immunity to it. It arises due to trauma, injury, aging and other factors which directly affects your spine area. Even if it is already rampant, you can still prevent it if you know its causes and symptoms.
However, you can also treat it through certain therapies, surgery or medication. You can always go for pain relief medications to get rid of the excruciating pain. You can explore StimTein Review, which is a pain medication to treat joint pain. Also, a healthy lifestyle is essential in maintaining your spine’s positive condition. As long as you treat your arthritis in the spine as early as possible, further complications will be prevented.