Spinal osteoarthritis occurs in the facet joints that connect the vertebrae along the spine. The primary purpose of facet joints is to allow motion in the spine — they help bend, twist, and flex with ease.
When cartilage breakdown occurs, it can cause neck or back pain, stiffness (especially first thing in the morning), tenderness, swelling, and a loss of spine flexibility and mobility.
Bone spur formation is a common side effect of spinal osteoarthritis. When bone is injured or damaged, it responds by creating more bone in an effort to repair itself. The resulting new bone forms in small, hard overgrowths on facet joints and around the vertebrae. Bone spurs don’t always cause pain. However, if they irritate or compress nearby spinal nerves, then they can cause radiating pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling down an arm or leg.
Spinal osteoarthritis symptoms typically worsen over time as joint degeneration progresses. People with severe spinal arthritis often have increasing difficulty walking, standing, climbing stairs, and sitting comfortably as the disease progresses.