Spinal osteoarthritis, also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints and the discs of the neck and lower back have worn down, making the bones rub against one another. This most affects the joints where the body places most of the pressure—the weight-bearing joints, such as the hips. When this happens, the joints become inflamed and swollen, thus causing the source of pain for patients who suffer from osteoarthritis.
In addition to cartilage providing a cushion for the joints, synovial fluid further provides lubrication for the joints. These two in combination are what will allow the joints to move freely and without friction. Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine include the feeling of stiffness, aches, and pains in the neck and back.
How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
When a patient first complains of back pain, the first step is to rule out other health and medical conditions. With osteoarthritis, the pain is felt deep within the muscles; after that, the patient may find that he or she is suffering from intermittent lower back pain, which often arises from strenuous activity or in the morning. Osteoarthritis of the spine can also develop over time, such as due to aging.
Some of the treatment options for spinal osteoarthritis may include the following:
- Encouraging maintaining a healthy weight
- Beginning or continuing with a regular exercise routine
- Range of motion exercises
- Adding nutrition and other supplements
- Application of hot or cold presses
- Painkillers or prescription medication
The good news is that spinal osteoarthritis does not usually require surgery. We may recommend other forms of treatment that include any of the above methods, as well as physical therapy. If a surgery, such as a disc replacement is needed, then Alexander Bone and Spine Institute can discuss the many different options available to you and what the next steps moving forward will be.
To request your first appointment, please contact us today.