Arthritis is a condition that involves pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints in various places in the body. This may include the spinal joints or areas along the spine where tendons and ligaments attach to the vertebrae. Although spinal arthritis can occur anywhere on the spine, the lower back and the neck are the two most common areas.
Wear and tear on the spine are common causes of spinal arthritis. Characteristics that can increase the risk of developing this condition include age, genetics, obesity, or activities that place repetitive stress on the affected joints. Autoimmune disorders are another risk factor for spinal arthritis, such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis or gout. A qualified physician like Dr. Charla Fischer in New York City can identify the risks for spinal arthritis.
Pain and stiffness are two of the most common traits of spinal arthritis. These symptoms are often worse early in the day and during the night but can lessen with movement during the daytime. Swelling around the affected joints may occur. It is also common to experience loss of flexibility and decreased mobility along the spine.
The symptoms of spinal arthritis may be managed with proper treatment with the help of a specialist like Dr. Fischer. Often, patients with spinal arthritis have several options for treatment including:
- Medication: over-the-counter pain medications are the first form of treatment, followed by prescription medications if stronger aid is needed. Anti-inflammatories are also typically prescribed to block joint inflammation.
- Physical therapy: muscle and joint range of motion and strength can improve with proper physical therapy techniques. Exercises and stretches may focus on strengthening core and back muscles and increasing spinal movements.
- Steroid injections: injections into specific areas may reduce inflammation and discomfort. The effects are usually temporary and dissipate over time.
- Surgery: when other treatments aren’t sufficient, surgeries like decompression or spinal fusion may be recommended to improve spinal function and relieve pain.
Spinal arthritis is a chronic condition that currently has no cure. This degenerative disease can’t be reversed and may lead to other spinal problems like nerve compression, bone spurs, or spinal stenosis. Dr. Fischer can suggest ways to alter daily activities to help control symptoms. For example, weight loss and regular exercise can be helpful for spinal arthritis patients. Following the doctor’s advice for home care can help relieve inflammation and discomfort, improve joint mobility, and prevent worsening symptoms.