Spinal Arthritis

by Carol Gomes

The spine is made up of thirty three bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae support the spine and are attached to many ligaments and muscles that allow movement. The vertebrae are connected by inter-vertebral discs and facet joints. Over the years, the cartilage that protects the facet joints can become worn down. When this occurs the vertebrae rub against each other causing pain and inflammation. This is termed as spinal arthritis. It may also occur when the synovial fluid that cushions the vertebrae becomes infected. The most common types of arthritis that affect the spine include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.


Some of the symptoms associated with spinal arthritis include back pain, stiffness, pain and numbness in the neck, lower back pain running down the buttocks or thighs, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, difficulty in walking or bending, and in severe cases, spinal deformity. The symptoms may not be constant and may appear and disappear periodically. Your back may feel exceptionally stiff when you get out of bed.

Certain conditions make people more prone to spinal arthritis. Old people are more susceptible to this disease, as are those who have suffered trauma to the spine in the past. Other high-risk groups include those suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cancer, those with a weakened immune system, those suffering from Lyme disease, obese people, and people with a family history of arthritis. Women are twice as likely to develop arthritis as men, especially after menopause.

If you experience any of the symptoms associated with spinal arthritis, it is a good idea to consult your doctor. He or she will analyze your medical history and symptoms, and perform a physical examination. You may also have to undergo a series of tests including blood tests, x-rays, MRI, CAT scan, bone scan and a myelogram. These tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of spinal arthritis because the symptoms are similar to many other back related ailments.

Once a diagnosis has been made, the treatment process can be started. Treatment will be based on the type of spinal arthritis and the severity and extent of the disease. In general the treatment process will include medication, physical therapy, exercise, heat or cold therapy and rest.


One of the most effective treatments for spinal arthritis is an active exercise program that emphasizes stretching of the hip muscles, back joints and hamstrings and helps maintain the motion of the spine. Gentle exercise programs such as yoga and pilates are especially beneficial. Getting adequate rest also plays an important role in the treatment process. Applying a hot or cold pack helps alleviate the pain and inflammation.

Medication such as analgesics or glucosamine and chondroitin-sulfate supplements for pain relief and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for reducing inflammation are widely prescribed for treating spinal arthritis. In cases of rheumatoid spinal arthritis, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs may also be prescribed. There are also many surgical options for treating spinal arthritis that help you live a pain-free life.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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