Osteoarthritis, more simply known as arthritis, is commonly thought of a disease that affects the joint and bones. While arthritis is manageable, it generally poses some type discomfort or limited mobility on the patient. Spinal osteoarthritis tends to be more severe and debilitating due to impacted joints being located in the spine.
What happens is a breakdown of the cartilage in the vertebrae, affecting the bones and joints that help support the spine. In certain cases, osteoarthritis of the spine can produce bone spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column causing discomfort in the arms and legs. While the physical effects of osteoarthritis may not severely limit one’s daily mobility, a person with spinal osteoarthritis might also experience depression, anxiety, or other emotional issues.
In order to confirm or diagnosis spinal osteoarthritis, your physician will conduct a physical and take your medical history to see if you have the following symptoms: pain, tenderness, loss of mobility, or signs of injury to surrounding tissues. Often times your doctor will also run a series of tests including
- Blood Tests
Since arthritis is a degenerative process that occurs over time, it is not possible to cure completely, and treatment is mostly focused on alleviating pain and increasing mobility. The most important factor in managing spinal osteoarthritis is maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Doing this may include:
- Increasing flexibility through physical therapy, yoga, and stretching exercises
- Improving attitude and mood by staying active both at home and work
- Strengthening heart by proper diet and exercise
- Improving blood flow in order to alleviate pain in impacted area
For pain relief, one may consult an acupuncturist, masseuse, or use a cold compress on the inflamed region. Your doctor may also recommend over the counter medications such as Tylenol, or another non-inflammatory drug. In more serious conditions, prescription medications may be necessary. If you are over 45 years old, and experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your doctor about spinal osteoarthritis. For more information about spinal disorders, subscribe to our blog.