Osteoarthritis of the spine, also known as degenerative arthritis or spondylosis, is a condition found more commonly in women than men. The condition typically begins as the body ages, and cartilage between the bones of the facet joint breaks down. This degeneration of cartilage causes roughening and loss of lubrication, allowing the bones to rub together. Frequently this leads to the formation of bone spurs and irritated nerve roots.
Because the symptoms are similar, spinal osteoarthritis is sometimes misdiagnosed as degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is the breakdown of the discs between vertebrae rather than the cartilage between facet joints. It also should not be confused with rheumatoid arthritis in the spine, a less common, although potentially more crippling, autoimmune disease of joint tissue. Nor is osteoarthritis the same as osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass over time.
While neck or back pain caused by these conditions and others can resemble the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine, there are specific signs that could point to degenerative arthritis. These signs include:
- Diminished joint flexibility
- Intermittent joint pain that eases with movement
- The sensation of bone rubbing on bone
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, as with cervical spine arthritis with spurring
- Weakness or numbness in the legs, as with lumbar spine arthritis with spurring
If you experience neck or back pain, you should consult your physician. A physical examination, combined with spinal imaging and blood tests, can determine the origin and nature of your pain. Many conditions can be treated non-surgically with exercise or pain/anti-inflammatory medicine. If non-surgical treatment proves ineffective against chronic pain, your physician might suggest surgery as an alternative. Investigate all surgical options thoroughly. , Laser Spine Institute (LSI) is here to help with your investigation. .
LSI’s award-winning surgeons have a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures available to treat osteoarthritis of the spine. Contact the medical professionals at LSI for information about our minimally invasive, endoscopic surgical procedures and for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.