What Is Spinal Arthritis?
When you are diagnosed with spinal arthritis, it means that your joint cartilages have broken down. This causes slight to severe pain that can radiate along the affected nerves such as upper thighs and buttocks. As time lapses, the joint degradation creates more frictional pain. This results in stiffness and back pain decreasing flexibility and motion, particularly when sitting, walking or standing.
What Cause Spinal Arthritis?
Spinal arthritis occurs when the tissues that support bones, joints and spine thicken, surface bones bulges out and changes its shape. All these puts pressure on the body structure resulting in pain.
Spinal arthritis is mainly due to wear and tear, but can also be caused by inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis.
The risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Back injury
- Being older or middle-aged
What Are Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis?
Patients with spinal arthritis may feel some relieve when they lean forward and feel worse if they stand.
Other symptoms associated with Spinal Arthritis include;
- Neck numbness or tenderness
- Stiffness or swelling of the joints
- Difficulty in bending
- Crunching feeling of bones
- Limited motion
- Cramping, weakness and numbness in the legs and arms
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Neck pain radiating to the arms and shoulders
- Back pain radiating to legs and buttocks
Spinal arthritis due to rheumatoid arthritis is common in young men and causes stiffness in the morning.
How is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed?
The doctor will first gather your medical history by inquiring about:
- When symptoms occur?
- How severe in relation to activities performed
- What makes symptoms worse or better
- What kinds of treatments you have tried?
The doctor may also carry out back examination and exercises to check the range of motion and flexibility. Then the doctor might run tests such as MRI, blood work, CT, bone scan and X-ray to determine an accurate diagnosis.
What Are The Treatment Options For Spinal Arthritis?
Depending on the symptoms, moderate exercises and non-prescription medications can be effective. Other treatment includes:
- Weight loss
- Cold/hot applications
- Prescription medications
- Chiropractic treatment
- Physical theory
- Spinal injections
Drug therapies are used to manage physical symptoms with the aim of controlling disease progression and relief pain. The most common medications used include:
- Topical analgesics: these are creams applied directly to the affected parts. The main ingredients in the creams are eucalyptus, and wintergreen that help to distract the brain from the pain and stimulate nerve endings. Topical analgesics can also be combined with many oral pain medications
- NSAIDs: the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (cox-2 inhibitors, Aleve), and aspirin can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling. They are recommended to people who experience moderate to extreme pain.
- Analgesics: analgesics or pain relievers such as tramadol (e.g. Ultram) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are used to ease the pain, but they never alleviate swelling or inflammation. They have minimal side effects making them the best choice for patients moderate to mild pain.
Back surgery will be the last option to relief back pain when all the other treatments have failed. Seeking early treatment is the best option so as to control the disease before it spreads to other body parts.