Spine osteoarthritis develops once there is degeneration in the discs amidst the vertebrae. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help in the management of the symptoms.
What are the causes?
The degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae of the spine are usually caused by the following:
- Repeated trauma to the spine from sports injuries, accidents, poor posture or work-related activities
- Natural aging of the spinal structures that starts at the age of 30
- Overweight or obesity which places more strain on the weight-bearing joints
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Presence of other health conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and certain forms of infection
What are the signs?
The degeneration of the discs amidst the spinal vertebrae is a gradual process and leads to the narrowing of the spaces between the vertebrae. In most cases, bone spurs might develop.
Once the bone starts to rug against bone, the facet joints end up inflamed and results to progressive deterioration of the joint.
The usual signs that might arise include:
- Back pain
- Stiffness or rigidity of the spine
- Diminished flexibility of the spine
If the cervical region is affected, neck pain might radiate into the shoulder or down the arms. As for osteoarthritis that develops in the lumbar section, it causes morning stiffness and usually involves more than one vertebrae.
Management of spine osteoarthritis
Some of the commonly used treatment options for spine osteoarthritis include:
- Medications such as NSAIDs, opioid analgesics and acetaminophen
- Physical therapy
- Heat or cold therapy
- Weight loss
- Water therapy
Surgery is rarely required for the condition. In case the conservative measures fail to work after some time, some of the surgical options that the doctor might suggest includes discectomy, lumbar laminectomy and spinal fusion.