Arthritis of the spine
Spinal arthritis refers to arthritis of the back or neck. Arthritis is a state of joint inflammation and tenderness. In spinal arthritis, the facet joints in the spine or sacroiliac joints between the spine and the pelvis become inflamed. In this article, we will talk about the most common forms of spinal arthritis, let’s go.
- Risk factors:
- Old age.
- Certain medical conditions, ex: diabetes, tuberculosis, gout, psoriasis, and Lyme disease.
- Genetic factors.
- What are the types of spinal arthritis?
It’s the most common form of spinal arthritis. OA is a degenerative disease, usually affects the lower back and the facet joints between the vertebrae. The cartilage between the joints starts to break down, a process known as wear and tear. That leads to joint roughness which results in pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis:
It’s an inflammatory form of arthritis, in which the immune system shows abnormal activity and attacks the joints.
- Ankylosing spondylitis:
It is spinal arthritis that causes inflammation in the sacroiliac joints at the base of the spine and the vertebrae.
- Reactive arthritis:
This form of arthritis is triggered by infection. Usually, the infection locates in the bowel or genitals.
- Enteropathic arthritis:
It is inflammatory arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Neck pain and stiffness which get worsens in the morning and late in the evening.
- Limitation of mobility.
- Numbness sensation.
- Spinal stenosis: compression of the spinal cord inside the spinal canal.
- Deformity of the spines leading to kyphosis.
- Collapsed vertebrae.
- How to diagnose spinal arthritis?
The diagnosis of spinal arthritis depends on medical history, physical examination, and clinical investigation.
Your doctor will assess your condition according to your data. The clinical investigations include an X-ray, CT scan, and MRI to visualize the degenerative changes happening to the joints, and any further extensions.
- What is the treatment of spinal arthritis?
There is no cure for arthritis. the treatment is mainly symptomatic and aims to increase flexibility and make it easier to do daily tasks.
The main lines of treatment include:
- Exercise and physiotherapy:
Simple exercises are important to maintain a normal range of motion and strengthen the muscles. The exercises include walking, swimming, and water aerobics.
Physiotherapy and massage are of great importance. They reduce pain and stiffness.
It’s recommended to lose weight if you’re obese and follow a healthy diet. This decreases the pressure applied to your joints and improves your condition.
- Medical treatment:
- Analgesics such as: acetaminophen and NSAIDS, ex: ibuprofen.
- Corticosteroid intra-joint injection: in case of failure of NSAIDs to relieve the pain, a steroid injection is the best solution.
- Surgical treatment:
It’s the last available choice for resistant cases with severe deformity. The aim of the surgery is to decompress the spinal cord to free the compressed nerves and relieve the symptoms.