Many people suffer from back pain everyday. In fact, it has become one of the leading causes for disability in the United States. There are many things that may affect the spine over time, such as age, accidental injuries, or falls. For those who have not experienced it, back pain caused from spinal arthritis is not only real, but it can sometimes be a very serious condition. Arthritis is nothing new, as humans have been succumbing to its symptoms for about as long as we have been around.
Anyone who has ever suffered from spinal arthritis, or someone who has watched a loved one suffer from it, knows firsthand just how painful it can be, and they can also attest to its validity. While the numbers for how many adults have arthritis can vary depending on the source or statistic, the CDC reports that nearly 50% of adults aged 65 or older will have at least one diagnosis for one form of arthritis or another. Even though arthritis is extremely common, especially among the older population, many still do not know that there are several different types of spinal arthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the Spine
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis in the spine. It normally affects the lower back and is mainly caused by everyday wear and tear-although it can also be brought about by an injury. As we age, the cartilage in the spine begins to break down, causing pain and inflammation. This type of pain is typically more noticeable when you bend or twist, as it is often as the result of mechanical movement. Osteoarthritis of the spine usually affects the facet joint between the vertebrae, and for that reason it can also be known as facet joint arthritis, facet disease, or facet joint syndrome. When this type of degeneration occurs in the neck, it is known as cervical spondylosis. Osteoarthritis of the spine has also been known to cause bone spurs, which can put added pressure on the nerves in the spinal column.
Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system begins attacking itself. Rheumatoid arthritis more commonly affects joints in different parts of the body but it can affect the spine as well. When it does affect the spine, however, it most commonly affects the cervical region of the spine, the part of the spine referred to as the neck area. This condition attacks the synovium, the lining of the joints, and leads to pain, stiffening, swelling of the spinal column. This form of arthritis is sometimes considered to be the most debilitating as it can cause deformities and disabilities. This type of arthritis is not caused by normal wear and tear, so the onset of RA can sometimes occur at a much younger age–usually anywhere between the ages of 30-60–but there is also a condition known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, which is RA in young children.
Spondyloarthritis is a group of inflammatory diseases that affect the joints and the places in the body where ligaments and tendons connect to the bone.
- Ankylosing spondylitis- This type of spinal arthritis can cause inflammation of the vertebrae and the sacroiliac joints, which connect the hip bones to the sacrum. This condition usually begins in early adulthood and affects more men than women. In some severe cases, the bones in the spine can even begin fusing together, further limiting the flexibility of the spine.
- Psoriatic Arthritis- Another type of inflammatory disease that can affect the spine is a condition known as psoriatic arthritis. This condition is also associated with psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder known for causing red, itchy, and flaky patches on the skin.
- Enteropathic Arthritis- This type of arthritis is associated with conditions like Crohn’s Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), though not everyone who suffers from these illnesses will also develop enteropathic arthritis. This type of arthritis is known to flare-up at the same time as the associated condition.
Although these groups of conditions are all inflammatory diseases, they are not the same as rheumatoid arthritis.
These are just a few of the most common types of spinal arthritis. Additionally, the symptoms of spinal arthritis can vary from person to person but, in general, someone who has spinal arthritis may experience these symptoms:
- Pain and stiffness, especially in the lower back
- Loss of flexibility, like not being able to bend your back or turn your neck
- Tenderness and swelling of the affected area above the vertebrae
- Feeling the sensation of grinding when moving the joints in your neck or spine
- Swelling, pain, and stiffness in other areas of the body (especially for arthritis that is inflammatory)
- Fatigue and whole body weakness
- If nerves are being affected, numbness and pain in the extremities
- Pain and stiffness that tends to get worse at night
- Constant, nagging pain or pain that comes and goes
If you believe you may have spinal arthritis it is best to seek treatment from a medical health professional. Once diagnosed, treatments include nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and lifestyle changes that help to reduce the inflammation or stress on the spine, such as weight loss or changes in posture. Perhaps the most effective treatment, though, is the use of chiropractic or physical therapy, or maybe even a combination of different approaches. The main goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain while strengthening the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
If you are needing treatment or help in diagnosing the cause of the pain in your spine, neck, or lower back then Thrive Chiropractic can help. As the leading Chiropractor in the Boise area, we have the expertise, the knowledge, and the tools necessary to help diagnose and treat the underlying cause for your back pain. Stop in and see us anytime, visit us online, or give as a call. We are always here to answer any questions you might have. Your safety is always our number one priority and we are taking extra measures to keep our clients safe during this time, so please do not hesitate to call or stop in for help today!