There are many types of arthritis and most of them can cause arthritis in spine joints just as they can affect other joints of the body such as the hips, knees and shoulders.
Usually it is the joints of the lower back that are affected, and in fact arthritis in its various forms is one of the most common causes of lower back pain.
What is Arthritis In Spine?
Many people who have arthritis in spine joints already have another spinal disease or condition such as degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis. These conditions place an extra burden on the joints of the spine which can lead to damage and the pain of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting many people as they grow older. About 1 in 10 people over 65 will be disabled due to osteoarthritis, although most of these cases refer to knees and hips which can often be restored to mobility through surgery.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in the spine include stiffness and pain in the neck and/or lower back.
A problem in the neck may be accompanied by weakness or numbness in the arms; arthritis in spine lower down can produce the same weakness or numbness in the legs.
Arthritis In Spine – Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto immune disease in which the joints become inflamed and painful. As with other auto immune diseases, the cause is not known but there may be a genetic factor.
Women are three times more likely to be affected than men. Unlike other forms of arthritis it is more likely to affect the upper spine, especially the joints of the neck, along with feet and hands.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that involves the spine. Again this is an auto immune disease but it affects the spine more than other joints.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis it affects men more often than women, and usually begins before the age of 40. There is back pain and stiffness, sometimes affecting the whole spine, along with general fatigue. In many cases there is also inflammation of the eyes. The pain may be relieved by movement, worse when resting.
Treatment is based on physical therapy, careful exercise and pain relief.
Arthritis In Spine – Treatment
If you suffer from arthritis in spine areas the first thing to do is to consider your sleeping arrangements. A new, firm mattress can make a lot of difference, as can switching to a special pillow if the problem is in the neck or upper back. Heat treatments may help.
Your doctor may also suggest exercises that you can do to strengthen the spine or maintain as much freedom of movement as possible. He or she can prescribe pain medication that is suitable for you. So be sure to keep in contact with your doctor regarding your arthritis in spine and let him or her know when you notice any changes.
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In some cases, surgery may be recommended. This is very much an individual matter that will be decided case by case. Spinal surgery is not undertaken lightly, but it can be helpful, especially where the arthritis in spine is accompanied by other problems that may respond to surgical procedures.