Many patients are unaware of what osteoarthritis is or how it can affect their spine. Andrew Kitterman, PA-C at Prairie Spine goes over osteoarthritis, along with its causes and treatment. Read the article below for more information and see what advancements Prairie Spine has made to ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for you. If you have any questions or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 309-691-7774.
There are different types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the most common form, typically occurs as we age. Osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage in your joints. In a normal joint, cartilage provides a smooth surface that allows smooth gliding for joint motion. As the cartilage deteriorates this can cause “bone on bone” contact and may lead to pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness over the affected joint. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in the body however it typically affects your hands, knees, hips, and spine first.
Osteoarthritis of the spine can also involve the discs of the neck and lower back. Loss of the natural height of discs can be characterized as degenerative disc disease. Osteoarthritis can also cause bone spurs to push on nerves exiting the spinal column which can lead to numbness/tingling, weakness, and pain in the arms or legs.
Typically osteoarthritis of the spine can be diagnosed through X-rays along with physical examination. Certain tests may also be ordered in addition to X-ray imaging to evaluate the spinal nerves and discs depending on your symptoms.
While it is difficult to reverse the damage to your joints, it is important to remain active and maintain a healthy diet. Physical therapy that focuses on flexibility, strengthening, and cardiovascular health can all improve symptoms and reduce future problems. Prescription medications may also be used to control your symptoms and reduce pain. Certain patients, depending upon physical exam, may be candidates for corticosteroid injections or surgical intervention if conservative treatment fails. If you would like to be formally evaluated to see if your back or neck pain may be secondary to osteoarthritis call our office at (309) 691-7774.