Most people experience aching in their back or neck at some time in their lives. If you’re experiencing chronic pain and stiffness along your spine, spinal osteoarthritis may be to blame. While spinal osteoarthritis is more common among the elderly, people of all ages can suffer from this disorder. If osteoarthritis pain limits your movement, pain management services can help relieve discomfort and put the pep back in your step.
What Causes Spinal Osteoarthritis?
At the top portions of our bones, a layer of cartilage serves as a protective cushion. When this cartilage wears down, the bony surfaces can rub together, causing inflammation and friction that leads to pain. In time, inflammation can change the soft tissues surrounding the joints. Thickening of the synovial membrane causes the joint to lose its natural lubrication, which then causes more inflammation and more friction.
When vertebral bones continue to rub against each other, bone spurs known as osteophytes form and cause pressure on sensitive spinal nerves. As the disease progresses, pain and weakness in the arms or legs may result.
Other symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis (SO) may include:
- Tenderness and stiffness in the spinal joints
- Limited range of motion
- Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
- Neck pain
The severity of pain varies and can be mild or severely debilitating.
The process of degeneration is typically a slow one, usually occurring over many years. However, trauma to the joints or genetic defects can cause a faster onset of the condition.
Who is at Risk for Spinal Osteoarthritis?
Anyone can get spinal osteoarthritis, but some people carry a greater risk. For people under the age of 45, men are more likely than women to develop SO. However, after 45, women are at higher risk, with post-menopausal women being the group most commonly affected. Spinal osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in people who are overweight than in those who are not. People who require repetitive motions involving the back or neck are also more likely to develop SO.
Treatment Options for Spinal Osteoarthritis
Treatment for osteoarthritis focuses on relieving pain and restoring function. The goal of any SO treatment plan should be to increase your ability to live a healthy life. Exercise and weight management will be a priority for patients who carry too many extra pounds.
After a diagnosis which may include X-rays, MRI or CT scans, and diagnostic injections, you can discuss treatment options with your pain management doctor.
Treatments may include:
- Analgesic or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Nutritional therapy
- Injection therapies such as facet injection
- Surgical solutions (usually a last resort)
Swimming, water aerobics, and range-of-motion exercises are often suggested to improve flexibility and regain muscle strength.
Is it Time to find Pain Management Services?
If pain is interfering with everyday activities it’s time to schedule an appointment at St. Louis Pain Consultants. Several effective therapies will help restore function and allow you to enjoy life again. Don’t live with the limitations caused by osteoarthritis. Call the experts in pain management services for effective, cutting-edge treatments to treat your pain.