What is Spinal Arthritis?
Within the joints, a firm but flexible type of tissue known as cartilage acts as a cushion between bones and absorbs the strain that is placed upon your joints with movement. Cartilage can be very susceptible to damage, particularly as we become older and our bodies progress through the natural aging process.
The term “arthritis” describes a family of musculoskeletal disorders that occur when cartilage in the joints is worn down and eventually disappears as the result of aging, wear and tear, injury or trauma. Inflammation of the membranes lining the joints can also occur, which causes the stiffness and pain typically associated with arthritis. Cervical arthritis affects the neck and upper back, while lumbar arthritis affects the lower back and pelvic region. Other common forms of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis affects millions of men and women around the world. This type of arthritis occurs when the shock-absorbing cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down gradually. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but is most commonly experienced in the hands, hips, spine and knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. As the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissues, it causes inflammation and swelling in the lining of the joints. This can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis can also impede many bodily systems, including the eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels and skin.
Juvenile arthritis: There are many types of juvenile arthritis, all of which develop in children under the age of 16. Also referred to as “pediatric rheumatic disease,” juvenile arthritis can be an autoimmune or inflammatory condition. Children suffering from juvenile arthritis may experience problems with the musculoskeletal system as well as complications involving the eyes, skin, digestive system and muscles.
Although there are many types of arthritis, each form can be extremely debilitating if not properly treated. Obtaining a clear and comprehensive diagnosis of your arthritic difficulties is key to achieving optimal healing, as each type of arthritis requires a distinct care regimen.
Spinal Arthritis Causes
The exact cause of arthritis is unknown. However, research shows that many factors contribute to the presence and severity of arthritis. These components include:
- Age: As we lose bone mass, individuals become more likely to contract arthritis and related conditions.
- Gender: Women are especially prone to arthritis, while gout is most commonly experienced by men.
- Loss of cartilage in joints: Over time, the cartilage that cushions the bones within joints deteriorates.
- Bone spurs: Tiny, abnormal outgrowths of bone can accentuate strain upon the joint and cause pain.
- Inflammation and swelling: The more inflamed a joint becomes, the more likely it is that chronic arthritis will appear or accelerate.
- Genetic predisposition: Men and women with a family history of arthritis are more likely to suffer from it themselves, especially as they age.
- Infection or injury: If a joint has been damaged as the result of an infection or a traumatic injury, cartilage tissue may break down more quickly.
- Obesity: Individuals with obesity are more likely to contract arthritis than others.
By strengthening the joints and living mindfully, you may be able to ward off arthritis. Speak with your doctor about ways to prevent the development of severe arthritis if you believe you are prone or have a genetic predisposition to this medical condition.
Spinal Arthritis Symptoms
Individuals sustaining arthritis may begin to notice pain and discomfort gradually or suddenly. Symptoms oftentimes will vary widely based on the type of arthritis that a patient is afflicted with. Some of the most universal indications of arthritis include:
- Back pain that comes and goes without warning
- Spinal stiffness, particularly in the morning
- Pain, tenderness and numbness in the neck, shoulders, hips, knees or heels
- Lower back pain that radiates through the buttocks, thighs or pelvic area
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- A “crunching” feeling or the sound of bone against bone
- Limited mobility and difficulty bending or walking
- Redness around joints
- A loss of appetite
- Slight fever
- Joint deformity
If you begin to notice arthritic symptoms, seek timely medical attention. The sooner you receive the care you need, the more likely it is that you will be able to maintain or improve your quality of life.
Laser Spine & Orthopedics Approach
If you are living with the pain of arthritis, you are not alone. At Laser Spine & Orthopedics®, our team of experienced specialists is committed to providing safe and compassionate care for your arthritis-related concerns. From diagnosis to treatment, your health and well-being are our central priorities.
During your initial consultation, one of our experts will carefully evaluate your medical history and physical state to clearly identify the type and severity of your arthritis. In some cases, certain diagnostic tests may be necessary, such as a blood panel, the extraction of joint fluid, X-ray, MRI or CT scans. Based upon this information, we will create a personalized treatment plan to meet your unique needs and goals. Depending on the underlying cause of your arthritis, care may include conservative methods such as over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, heat, specialized exercises, physical therapy and injections.
If you are suffering from painful bone spurs, our Board-certified surgeons can remove them through an advanced minimally invasive procedure designed to reduce trauma to surrounding areas and shorten your recovery time. We also offer a number of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries to support or replace joints that have lost the majority of their cartilage. When compared with traditional open surgeries, minimally invasive operations typically yield additional benefits that include:
- Quicker recovery times, allowing patients to return to work and other daily activities faster
- A reduced risk of scarring, high volumes of blood loss and trauma to nearby tissues
- Less pain during and after your procedure
- Fewer potential complications
Although we specialize in minimally invasive procedures, we offer open surgeries as well. The surgical approach used will depend upon the preferences of the patient, as well as several defining factors. Individuals who are obese or who have significant adhesions (scar tissue) from a past surgery may not be able to undergo a minimally invasive operation.
For more information about arthritis, Laser Spine & Orthopedics® or the advanced procedures that we offer, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us directly at 972-445-9443 or by filling out the form on this page. We look forward to helping you feel better, faster!