Spinal arthritis (or more specifically osteoarthritis) is the breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower spine. Spinal arthritis can produce spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal column. This pressure on such delicate and sensitive nerves can cause weakness and pain in the extremities. Arthritis affects everyone as they age, some more than others. General wear and tear on the bones and joints can cause stiffness, loss of proper function, and discomfort. For people who suffer with spinal arthritis these symptoms are worsened by the complexity of the spinal nervous system. Young people can also be affected by spinal arthritis if they have been involved in an injury or trauma to a joint, have a genetic defect involving cartilage, or have a conditions that affects the joints.
Spinal arthritis is characterized by pain or stiffness in the neck or back. People often complain of weakness or numbness in their extremities with spinal arthritis. Usually, these symptoms are relieved when a person lies down. While some people may experience mild symptoms of their spinal arthritis, others experience debilitating symptoms that do not allow them to participate in lifestyle and professional activities. Those with severe spinal arthritis may often feel depressed or helpless because they are not able to do daily activities.
Relief of spinal arthritis comes in many forms. Physical therapy is one form that helps people learn to move their bodies with minimal discomfort. Many times, simply retraining the body to work in a proper or enhanced method can not only relieve pain, but it can correct damage to areas that have affected by spinal arthritis. Water therapy is a great choice for many patients with spinal arthritis. People weigh less in water and their joints and limbs move more smoothly in water. Because pressure is taken off the joints, healing can begin through regular aquatic therapy. There are other options available through advanced technology and body manipulation equipment that are available at spinal centers.
If you have chronic pain or stiffness in the neck or back, make an appointment with a spinal specialist for evaluation so that your treatment plan can begin.
Posted on behalf of Dr. James Chappuis MD FACS, SpineCenterAtlanta