Spinal Arthritis Causes

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Spinal arthritis causes are not entirely understood. What is known is that spinal arthritis, or spinal osteoarthritis, is marked by the erosion of the rubbery, smooth, protective cartilage that lines the joints. This leads to the inflammation, swelling, and stiffening of joints within the spine. These joints, known as facet joints, begin to wear down over time. As cartilage thins, the bony portions of the vertebrae can begin to grind together. This can irritate nerve endings within the joint and can eventually lead to the development of osteophytes (bone spurs). These smooth, bony protrusions are not always symptomatic. Only if they make contact with the spinal cord or an adjacent nerve root will a patient experience pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness.

Risk Factors

While spinal arthritis causes are not always apparent, doctors have pinpointed a number of risk factors that could contribute
to osteoarthritis development within the spine. These risk factors include:

• Age – people 50 or older are more likely to develop arthritis.

• Overused joints – this can occur through repetitive lifting, bending, or twisting, as well as constantly slouching while seated at a desk or driving.

• Injury or trauma to bones – whiplash, compression fractures, or other kinds of injuries can hasten the degradation of joints.

• Obesity – excess body weight places more stress on the joints.

• Genetics – some individuals are genetically predisposed to developing osteoarthritis.

• Gender – women are twice as likely as men to develop osteoarthritis.

• Other conditions – decreased blood supply, chronic illness, infection, or a diminished immune system can contribute to joint degeneration.

Treatment Options

Just as spinal arthritis causes are relatively obscure, a cure remains elusive. The best an arthritis sufferer can hope for is to maintain a decent quality of life through symptom management. This is typically accomplished using a doctor-recommended
regimen of conservative, non-surgical treatment methods including pain medication, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, and others. In the vast majority of cases, surgery only becomes an option if chronic symptoms persist despite several weeks or months of conservative treatment.

In Conclusion

Even if all the symptoms you feel match those of spinal arthritis or another condition you have researched, it is never safe to assume what the cause of your back or neck pain is. Everyone has felt spinal pain at some point in their lives, and most of the time it is caused by a minor issue such as sleeping in an awkward position, having poor posture while sitting in front of a computer, or improperly lifting heavy items. But even so, there are times when neck or back pain can be a sign of a serious condition that needs medical care – sometimes emergency medical care. Because of this possibility, make sure to contact your primary care physician if you’ve been suffering with neck or back pain for more than a few days. If you are unable to touch your chin to your chest or experience a change in your bowel or bladder function, seek medical care at the emergency room right away.

About the Author:

Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. LSI specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for spinal arthritis and other spinal conditions. http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/back_problems/arthritis_of_the_spine

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