What Causes Arthritis of the Spine?

What is Spinal Arthritis?

Spinal osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition with a range of underlying causes and risk factors. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine and want to learn more about the specific causes of your individual condition, the best place to start is with your diagnosing physician. However, it is also important to educate yourself as a patient to become more informed about this condition in general.

Although arthritis of the spine is an irreversible condition with contributing factors like age and genetics that are beyond anyone’s control, there are other causes related to your lifestyle that can be changed. Understanding the full range of causes for spinal arthritis can help you in both treating the symptoms and also potentially slowing down the progression of this condition.

Causes of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of the spine is caused by the gradual breakdown of the cartilage that protects the facet joints. Facet joints allow adjacent vertebrae to flex and extend, but can become stiff and inflamed if the cartilage becomes brittle and wears away. Bone spurs, or osteophytes, can develop in arthritic joints as a natural response to this increased joint friction. Inflamed joints and bone spurs can both narrow the spinal canal and nerve root exits, potentially leading to painful nerve compression.

Arthritis of the spine is primarily caused by the following factors:

  • Aging. Deterioration of joint cartilage can begin as early as age 30, but accelerates after 50.
  • Gender. In general, spinal arthritis is more common in post-menopausal women.
  • Obesity. Excess weight puts stress on the facet joints, contributing to cartilage deterioration.
  • Disease. Gout, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and infections can cause spinal osteoarthritis.
  • Genetics. A family history of arthritis or other abnormal joint conditions also increases your risk.

Treatment Options

Many patients with spinal arthritis can manage their symptoms nonsurgically through a conservative treatment plan. Your doctor may suggest anti-inflammatory drugs, hot/cold compresses and gentle stretching, among other options. Doctors may recommend lifestyle changes like weight management, posture correction, and quitting smoking.

Surgical intervention may be necessary if conservative efforts are ineffective. Through the use of modern technology, surgeons are now able to complete these procedures without the need for large incisions. BEST Health System is the industry leader in minimally invasive care. Even compared to other minimally invasive surgical providers, BEST is setting the blueprint. Contact our team to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services. Put an end to your back pain now and for all.