How Arthritis Can Affect the Spine and How It Is Treated

Arthritis is a painful condition affecting millions of people.  When it hits the spine, the results can be debilitating and may even require surgery.

But the prognosis for arthritis of the spine is dependent on the way arthritis has manifested itself.  Treatment may range from physical therapy and targeted mobility exercises to surgical intervention.  Let’s take a look at how arthritis can affect the spine and how it is treated.

Varieties of Arthritis

There are several conditions which indicate arthritis in the spine.  Briefly, these are:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: Affecting joints in the lower body, including the pelvis and hips, this condition manifests as rigidity and stiffness.  Inflammation and bone spurs can result from bone fusion in serious cases.
  • Spinal stenosis: This condition is a narrowing of the spinal canal which results in nerve inflammation due to the compression of the nerves implicated and bony outgrowths.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This immune system disorder results in the body turning on itself.  The membrane which protects joints is literally eaten away, causing pain and inflammation.  The condition can cause slippage of upper vertebrae which causes them to rub together, provoking serious pain.
  • Osteoarthritis: This is the manifestation of arthritic dysfunction which is most common and which disproportionately affects women.  Cartilage is destroyed, causing friction which results in pain.  Osteoarthritis can cause inflammation of the nerve and may also result in bone spurs.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The symptoms of these conditions can be easy to write off as the condition advances, especially in the beginning.  What’s crucial is that people experiencing the following symptoms consult a spinal specialist at their earliest opportunity to obtain diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

  • Pain in the back, extremities, hips and shoulders.
  • Reduced range of motion and inhibited mobility.
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs, buttocks or thighs.
  • Pain that radiates from the back to the extremities.
  • A sound that you can feel. “Crunching” sounds and sensations.
The sooner you attend a spine specialist in the presence of any or all of these symptoms, the more rapidly you’ll receive treatment.  Early intervention can make an enormous difference in prognosis for patients experiencing conditions provoked by arthritis.

Depending on the diagnosis, a course of treatment will be prescribed.  Your specialist will examine the progression of the arthritis and the symptoms presenting to proceed with treatment, as described earlier in this post.

When your back hurts, masking the pain with anti-inflammatories and pain pills may exacerbate the problem.  By numbing the pain, you tend to pursue activities that may further inflame already compromised spinal systems.  The sooner you seek diagnosis, the better.  Your pain can be addressed with a variety of therapeutic responses, depending on the condition and the stage it’s progressed to.

The Advanced Spine Center

At Advanced Spine, we focus on you and the health of your spinal column and its complex systems.  How arthritis can affect the spine and how it is treated is a complex consideration which requires advanced diagnostic protocols and expert care.

Contact Advanced Spine for more information.