Arthritis is a common condition, but many people are not aware that it can affect their spine. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. We have joints all over the body, even the spine. We tend to focus on the joints in our knees, hips, and even fingers. When it comes to arthritis, for some reason we think the spine is off limits. That may be because we are unaware that joints create the spine. Arthritis has a terrible effect on the spine and can leave you in a tremendous amount of pain. If you are suffering from spinal arthritis, the best thing to do is get treatment before it worsens.
There are many different types of joints. They all play a role in movement and help us to carry out tasks. Joints also help by bearing weight. Some of them help to take pressure off other parts of the body and distribute weight evenly. If you have joint pain or joint damage, you typically do not feel the pain only in the area of the joint, but the pain seems to radiate to the surrounding areas. This phenomenon happens because the areas around the joint have to make up for the malfunctioning joint. Some joints are slightly movable, but others have free range of motion.
The joints in the spine are slightly movable, and their primary purpose is stabilization. Between the vertebrae are discs. These discs cushion the spine and protect the rubbing together of bones. The discs also hold the spine together. The joints are held together in such a way to allow us to bend and turn. Unlike the shoulder and hip joints, the vertebrae cannot rotate 360 degrees. If someone did that, I’m sure you would totally panic. The vertebrae just give us enough mobility to carry out our daily functions.
Nearly 350 million people have arthritis. If you are suffering from arthritis, you are not alone. Arthritis can start in any of the joints. It is rare for arthritis to affect only one joint. It tends to affect the joints in surrounding areas. There are many forms of arthritis and many different causes. Osteoarthritis is common and has the greatest effect on the spine. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage between joints; this causes a lot of pain and eventually destroys the joint completely.
Causes of Spinal Arthritis
There are many factors to arthritis. Arthritis is not strictly a genetic thing. If you do have family members who suffer from arthritis, you are at a higher risk for having the disease. Injuries also affect your risk for arthritis. Any trauma to the joints can also lead to arthritis. Age can play a role as well. Juvenile arthritis does happen, but it is rare. Many people do not notice symptoms of arthritis until their mid-forties. Arthritis may start off mild, but it ends continues to worsen.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis symptoms in the spine tend to start off mild and worsens over time. You tend to start off with stiffness. That stiffness may start in the neck and work its way down the spine. You may also have some pain. The spine contains a lot of nerves and damage to the vertebrae may cause nerve damage as well. As the discs inflame or deteriorate, it puts pressure on the nerves. You then may have weakness in the extremities. If arthritis is in the neck, weakness can be felt in the arms or hands. If the arthritis is affecting the lumbar spine, the numbness will be in the legs and possibly the feet. The pain can become severe leaving you bed ridden.
Treatment for Spinal Arthritis
The next question is what do you do about arthritis in the spine. U nfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, but there are ways to manage it. The first step of treatment may be pain meds. Medicine can help to relieve those painful symptoms. Exercise may seem like the worst thing you should do, but it helps a lot. Sometimes getting the excess weight off of you can help ease a lot of those arthritis symptoms. Physical therapy allows you to gain flexibility in the joints. Acupuncture and Massages not only relax you but have a way of getting rid of your pain. It is also good to use ice and heat on those areas causing the most pain. When the joint is damaged, sometimes the only thing you can do is undergo surgery. The doctor may add completely new discs to the spine. In the lumbar spine, the doctor may fuse the joints together.
Spinal arthritis is a problem that many people are not aware of, but it does cause a lot of problems. If you are suffering from arthritis, you are at risk for spinal arthritis. You should not ignore the symptoms of spinal arthritis. As soon as you notice symptoms, you should attempt to get treatment. If arthritis is not managed or treated, it will only worsen. Do not let spinal arthritis keep you down, do your best to stay healthy physically and manage your symptoms.
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