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How Arthritis Can Affect Your Spine

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. 

Let’s take a look at what happens when arthritis hits the spine and what we can do to treat it.

Arthritis and the spine

The spine is made up of small, individual bones called vertebrae. They have the task of providing support for the spine. In the spine, arthritis can cause pain and stiffness that you feel most often in your neck and lower back. Cervical arthritis affects the neck and upper part of the spine.

Arthritis is an inflammation and swelling of the joints. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, and these symptoms typically worsen as you get older. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, with a few being much more common than others. 

Four types of arthritis that affect the spine are: 

Facet joint syndrome: This arthritis-like condition is the result of the breakdown of the joints between the bones of the spine. It can cause significant neck and back pain. In patients with facet joint syndrome, the cartilage within the facet joints breaks down and becomes inflamed. This causes pain and irritation of the nearby nerves. 

Degenerative changes that affect the spine can cause weight to shift unevenly, placing an extra burden on the joints, preventing them from moving smoothly and causing irritation. The irritated and inflamed joints can cause intense pain.

Spinal stenosis: This type of arthritis results from new bone and tissue growth on the spinal column, causing narrowing of the spinal canal. In patients with spinal stenosis, the nerve roots become pinched and irritated, leading to painful burning, numbing, and tingling sensations.

Osteoarthritis: Referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is by far the most common type, affecting more people than any other form of arthritis. This degenerative joint disease occurs when the tissues of the joint break down over time. It can affect any joint but most often affects the:

If you have osteoarthritis, you’re likely to experience a deep, aching pain in the affected joints and morning stiffness that lasts less than 30 minutes.

Rheumatoid arthritis: This form of arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage. The condition typically affects joints on both sides of the body. People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to experience painful, swollen joints. This inflammatory disorder affects more than just your joints. It can affect your:

Who is at risk for arthritis?

Anyone can develop arthritis, but some people are more at risk than others. Arthritis most often affects adults over the age of 50, and the chances of developing arthritis are higher in people who are overweight or obese. Carrying excess weight places an added strain on your joints. 

Other risk factors  for arthritis are:

It’s crucial to see a specialist if you experience back pain, reduced range of motion, or numbness and tingling in the extremities. The sooner you see a specialist, the faster you’ll receive treatment, and early intervention often leads to a better prognosis.

Arthritis treatment

Treatment for spinal arthritis is geared toward managing your symptoms and improving functioning. Here at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist Dr. Thomas Jones II works together with our skilled team to treat and manage conditions that affect the spine. 

We offer the latest treatments based on cutting-edge research. An individualized treatment plan may involve medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, or surgical intervention to reduce your pain and help you feel and function better.

Arthritis can seriously disrupt your daily life. If you’re living with symptoms of pain and decreased mobility, we can help. To learn more schedule a visit with Dr. Jones at one of our offices in Houston, Pearland, or Lake Jackson, Texas, by calling to speak with one of our team members today. You can also request an appointment here on our website. 

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