As we get older, we can expect inevitable pains here and there. One of the most common diseases that can develop with age is degenerative joint disease of the spine, also called spinal osteoarthritis.
Usually called just “arthritis” because it is the most common form of the disease, osteoarthritis causes the wearing down of the protective cartilage of joints – and when this occurs in the spine, it also affects the discs around the neck and the lower back. Spinal arthritis can also bring about bone spurs, which can put pressure on adjacent nerves and cause pain.
Spinal osteoarthritis is a disease you should not ignore, especially since it is unpredictable. Below are some important facts about degenerative joint disease of the spine – including its causes, symptoms, how it is diagnosed, and how it can be treated.
Causes of Arthritis in the Spine
Although degenerative joint disease of the spine is most common in older adults, young people can also have this condition if they have a genetic defect in their cartilage or had a prior injury to their back. Individuals who had previous spinal trauma, such as from a high-contact sport or a car accident, can also be at high risk for this condition. Males are more likely to develop spinal arthritis before the age of 45, whereas the risk increases after age 45 for females.
Those who are obese also tend to be affected by this disease, especially since excessive body weight puts stress and pressure on the joints of the spine. Other causes may be trauma from playing intense sports or being in a profession that puts repetitive stress on your back.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Spinal Degenerative Joint Disease
Osteoarthritis of the spine can cause radiating pain to different areas of your body. It may also cause:
- Tenderness and stiffness of the joints
- Limited movements
- Back pain
To get a proper diagnosis, your orthopedic doctor will first conduct a physical examination and inquire about your family’s medical history. Then, your doctor may use an MRI scan and/or X-ray to verify the suspected diagnosis. The physician may also use a blood test in order to rule out other diseases that are similar to spinal osteoarthritis.
How Is Spinal Osteoarthritis Treated?
Although degenerative joint disease of the spine cannot be cured, there are treatments available to help improve your body’s function and ease your back pain.
People usually relieve their pain at home via over-the-counter pain medication. When the pain no longer responds to this medicine, though, your orthopedic doctor may give you prescription medication. The physician may also administer corticosteroid injections directly into the affected joints of the body. While surgery isn’t usually done to address spinal arthritis, it may be necessary if a damaged disc must be resected or replaced with a prosthetic disc.
Other treatments to help alleviate pain caused by degenerative joint disease of the spine include:
- Applying a hot or cold compress on the affected area
- Strengthening exercises
- Physical therapy to increase range of motion
- Maintaining a proper diet and healthy weight
Experienced Orthopedists in St. Louis
If you have back pain or bone and joint issues, look no further than the skilled orthopedic team at Advanced Bone & Joint. Our professional and compassionate doctors here in St. Charles County, Missouri, can help relieve your pain and get you back to doing what you enjoy.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact us today by calling (636) 229-4222 or request an appointment online now. We look forward to seeing you and helping you get back to the active lifestyle you love!