ARTHRITIS – OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE LUMBAR SPINE AND CERVICAL SPINE
Arthritis is a medical term for a condition that causes inflammation of your joints and is a condition that affects about 1 in every 5 U.S. adults.There are more than 100 types of arthritis but the most common types are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. These two conditions cause chronic pain and restricted mobility.
- Normal Wear and tear is one of the most common causes
- Autoimmune disorder is another common form of arthritis. The organizam immune system attacks the soft tissue in the joints.
- Reduction of cartilage tissue
- Family history of arthritis
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms and happens due to the normal “wear and tear” of the joint during daily activities. This degenerative condition breaks down the protective cartilage that surrounds the ends of the bones, causing the bones to rub together. As the cartilage wears away the friction that happens when a person moves causes inflammation. It can be extremely painful especially when the cartilage is completely worn off and there is a condition called “bone to bone” making the bones rub together.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder causing the body’s immune system to attack the body’s own cells and tissues. This causes inflammation in the lining of your joints making them swollen, stiff, warm and painful. Unlike Osteoarthritis, this type of chronic joint pain and stiffness can be mildly improved with gentle movements.
ARTHRITIS OF THE LUMBAR SPINE
Lumbar or lumbosacral arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the lower back and pelvis, resulting in inflammation of the joints, pain, and even loss of motion.
Arthritis of the lumbar spine most commonly affects older adults. However, it is not uncommon for younger patients to be diagnosed with this condition.
Those with a higher risk of developing lumbar arthritis include:
- Men and women over 60
- People with obesity
- Individuals who regularly perform heavy labor
- Individuals with previous spinal injuries or spinal surgeries
SYMPTOMS OF LUMBAR ARTHRITIS
Symptoms of Lumbar arthritis are similar to the other types and includes joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Pain and other symptoms, however, tend to be centralized in the lower back and pelvic region, but some people also experience pain in the buttocks and thighs.
Patients with arthritis of the lumbar spine often report more aggravated symptoms in the morning after getting out of bed, with pain and stiffness decreasing over the course of the day. Symptoms also tend to worsen after long periods of inactivity or when performing strenuous activity.
After reviewing the patient’s medical history and examining the spine, the doctor may do a series of tests and procedures in order to diagnose the condition. This can include an X-ray, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computed tomography) scan, and even blood tests.
It is important for the patient to provide detailed information about their pain, including:
- What it feels like
- Where it hurts
- How long they have experienced it
- What things make it better or worse
TREATMENT OF LUMBAR ARTHRITIS
Individuals with lumbar arthritis should learn how to take care of their back in order to manage pain symptoms and reduce the chance of injuring the spine further. For patients with lumbar arthritis the doctor might recommend avoiding certain activities, such as high-impact sports. Certain strengthening exercises can also help fortify the muscles around the spine, while proper lifting techniques and stretches can help ensure the spine is protected.
Although there is no cure for arthritis of the lumbar spine, pain and other symptoms can be effectively managed with a variety of treatments, including:
- Medication: anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used in conjunction with other treatments to decrease the amount of inflammation around the joints and provide pain relief.
- Hot/Cold therapy: when used in the right combination, hot packs and cold compresses can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with arthritis. The doctor can help to determine the best course of treatment for specific cases of lumbar arthritis.
- Weight loss: for patients who are obese or overweight, losing even 10 pounds can significantly lessen the amount of stress placed on the joints.
- Medial branch blocks
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Back Brace
- Trigger point injections
- Physical therapy: exercises are used to strengthen and improve the function of the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine so that less burden is placed on the joints.
- Epidural injections: injections are a more direct way of delivering anti-inflammatory medication, such as cortisone, to a specific area of the body.
- Alternative treatments: many patients diagnosed with lumbosacral arthritis find pain relief by complementing their doctor-prescribed treatment plan with acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, and/or natural remedies.
ARTHRITIS OF THE CERVICAL SPINE
This type of arthritis affects the cervical spine and the joints around. It can be referred to as cervical spondylosis, cervical osteoarthritis and neck arthritis.
The affected joints are called facet joints and are the ones who make it possible for the human body to band or twist.
The chances of developing cervical spine arthritis increase with age. Approximately 9 in 10 adults over the age of 65 have some sort of cervical spondylosis.
SYMPTOMS OF NECK ARTHRITIS
- Pain around the shoulder blade, along the arm and/or in the fingers
- Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain that gets worse when standing or sitting for too long, tilting the head back, sneezing, or coughing
- Muscle weakness that makes it hard to lift the arms or hold objects firmly
DIAGNOSING CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS
During the medical examination, the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms and may also perform quick tests to check muscle strength, reflexes, range of motion and how the person walks.
If cervical spine arthritis is suspected, imaging and/or nerve function tests may be ordered. This can include an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, myelogram, and electromyography (EMG).
Medial Branch Blocks