What is Osteoarthritis?
Like almost every part of the body, the complex system of ligaments, joints, muscles and bones known as the spinal column becomes susceptible to degenerative changes over time. Osteoarthritis is one of the many progressive disorders that may arise as the spine begins to regress. As one of the most common forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects more than 3 million people per year and occurs when the protective cartilage between the bones, usually at the joints, wears down over time and eventually disappears. As a result, bones lose their protective cushioning and may scrape or grind against one another.
Virtually any joint in the body may be affected by osteoarthritis, including the intricate joints found within the spine. It is most commonly found in the hands, knees, spine and hips. Because the elements of the spine are interdependent, osteoarthritis of the spinal joints is an especially debilitating condition and may trigger a domino effect of related difficulties.
While osteoarthritis is known for affecting those aged 65 and older most frequently, it can be found in any age group. Although there is no known cure for this condition, the team at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® can help slow its progression while treating pain, discomfort and other underlying issues associated with osteoarthritis.
The natural aging process is the primary cause of osteoarthritis. However, several factors can incite, exacerbate or accelerate this condition, including:
- Congenital joint and spine abnormalities
- Gender – Women are statistically more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men
- Genetic predisposition
- Injuries, like those that may result from a high-impact sport, car accident or sudden fall
- Overuse of the back, which is common in professions requiring highly physical labor or regularly driving long distances
- Related diseases and conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or the presence of excessive growth hormones
- Lack of exercise
- Previous spine complications such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis
By making minor adjustments in your everyday life, it is often possible to delay the onset of osteoarthritis or lessen its severity. With 2 out of every 3 individuals who suffer from obesity also encountering osteoarthritis, it is most important to maintain a healthy weight, eat nutritious foods and exercise regularly. These factors can play a significant role in helping to prevent this condition.
Usually the symptoms of osteoarthritis worsen over time if not addressed with a medical professional. Frequently, patients suffering from osteoarthritis will experience:
- Joint pain and discomfort, especially during or after movement
- Tenderness in and around inflamed joints, which may become noticeable when pressure is gently applied to the area
- Joint stiffness and rigidity, often after waking in the morning or attempting to move after a period of inactivity
- A limited range of motion
- Sensations of grating or grinding that may even seem audible
- Bone spurs or hard lumps around the damaged joint
- Upper, middle or lower back pain
- Visible joint swelling or redness
If you are encountering any of the above symptoms, schedule a consultation today with one of our experienced spine specialists. Through proactive treatment, osteoarthritis can often be effectively slowed and managed, which enables patients to lead an active, healthy life.
Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach
Many men and women facing osteoarthritis are kept from participating in everyday activities or new adventures because of chronic pain. However, there are many methods available to diminish the effects of arthritis and reclaim your well-being. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our team of skilled spine experts is committed to providing personalized, evidence-based care and advanced treatments to improve your quality of life.
During your initial consultation, we will perform a physical exam and evaluate your medical history. To rule out dangerous spine complications such as tumors or spinal stenosis, an imaging test, such as a CT scan, X-ray or MRI, may be requested. After attaining a clear and comprehensive diagnosis of osteoarthritis, we will work with you to most effectively treat this condition in a way that meets your unique goals and needs.
Components of treatment will depend upon the severity and location of your osteoarthritis, as well as any secondary conditions that may have developed as a result of disappearing cartilage. Generally, we encourage patients to consider conservative treatment options whenever possible. Research shows that the following non-surgical methods of care can be highly effective for patients struggling with osteoarthritis:
Exercise and Physical Activity: Through carefully guided exercises, it is possible to increase flexibility, strengthen joints and boost endurance. When combined, these developments often decrease the amount of osteoarthritis pain experienced and enable patients to confidently and comfortably engage in daily activities.
Medication: Oftentimes, temporarily taking pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications can give patients the relief they need to begin implementing other osteoarthritis treatments, such as physical therapy. Localized injections of medications that soothe inflamed tissues can also be extremely helpful and may provide relief for as long as 6 months at a time.
Additional Therapeutic Techniques: Hot and cold therapies, spinal decompression and other modalities can often minimize the pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis. The specific treatments used will depend upon the physical state and goals of the patient.
Lifestyle Adjustments: By losing excess pounds, purchasing proper orthopedic footwear, using assistive devices when needed and avoiding harmful movements, it is possible to delay the progression of osteoarthritis and to lessen the intensity of its symptoms. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, we regularly help patients pinpoint and remove factors in their life that are worsening the effects of osteoarthritis.
If non-invasive treatments alone do not provide sufficient relief, surgical intervention may be recommended. Although osteoarthritis itself is not reversible, there are many minimally invasive surgical options through which a specific joint can be replaced or realigned to restore proper functioning. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our surgeons specialize in performing advanced laparoscopic procedures that use tiny incisions to provide many benefits, such as:
- Less post-operative pain
- A reduced risk of scarring or blood loss
- Minimal trauma to muscles and other soft tissues that surround the impaired joint
- Shortened recovery times that enable patients to return to activities such as work without excessive delay
Sometimes correcting a damaged joint is as simple as removing painful bone spurs while conducting a minimally invasive arthroscopy, during which a tiny incision and very thin, flexible camera allow a surgeon to carefully inspect the joint in question. Other surgeries, known as osteotomies, strive to preserve a joint by removing harmful segments of bone. Through individualized attention, we are dedicated to ensuring that you have a positive patient experience and seamless recovery process.
If you are interested in learning more about osteoarthritis or Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us directly at 972-255-5588 or by filling out our convenient form on this page. We look forward to speaking with you!