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Pain in the back: Spinal arthritis

By Admin | March 14, 2023

Many types of arthritis can affect your musculoskeletal system. Joints are physical points of connection between two bones, and cartilage is the tissue that covers the surface of the bone at the joint. A membrane, called the synovial membrane, lines the joint and is filled with fluid known as synovial fluid. All these components work together to make movement easy.

Over time, the cartilage in joints can break down and cause swelling and tenderness. It's common in the joints used daily, such as the hands and knees. The spine comprises 33 bones stacked one over the other like Lego blocks, connected by three different joints. Arthritis can affect various joints in the body that are load-bearing and where movement occurs, including the spine.

Arthritis in the spine

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that caps your bones wears away. Degenerative changes can happen over time in joints used daily for motion. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused when your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your joints. You may experience pain and swelling, and your bones and joints slowly erode and deform. You can get this type of arthritis at any age, but it is usually more common in adults 40 or older.

The spine is susceptible to osteoarthritis because of the motion between the vertebrae. It's most common in the lower back, or lumbar spine, because these joints carry most of the body weight. When a person stands upright, the lumber spine experiences additional strain and wears out faster than nonmobile levels like the middle of the spine.

The neck also is susceptible to arthritis. This is because of the millions of flexions, extensions and rotary movements made by the joints in the neck. Over time, the disc cartilages and facet joints tend to wear out.

Preventing spinal arthritis

There are several factors that can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. We can modify some of these risk factors, but the others are inherent and not modifiable. The factors that cannot be changed include our age, genetics, gender and ethnicity.

For risk factors that can be changed, the saying "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure" applies to spinal arthritis. The modifiable risk factors include obesity, metabolic syndrome, previous injury, occupation, diet and physical activity.

There are things that you can do to lower your risk of arthritis developing and causing painful symptoms, such as:

  • Remain active.
    The more sedentary people are, the more likely they will have issues with arthritis pain. Strenuous physical activity isn't necessary. Simple exercises, like...(More)

For more info please read, Pain in the back: Spinal arthritis, by Mayo Clinic Health System

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