Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, which can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in the area of the joint. Some arthritic conditions can affect parts of the spine and are most common in the lumbar spine. Below, are the more common forms of spondyloarthropathies (spinal arthritis) and how they disturb spinal stability and spinal health.
Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing means rigid or stiff and spondylitis means inflammation of the spine. This condition primarily affects the joints near the pelvis and hip and the pain is typically focused in the lower back. Inflammation in the areas where bones attach to ligaments and muscles is the cause of this type of pain and the stiffness can lead to fusion of the joints and bony outgrowths, or spurs.
Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis literally means, “spinal narrowing.” As mentioned above, this can occur when bony outgrowths occur, as well as when ligaments thicken and narrow the spinal canal. A narrowed spinal canal can compress the nerves within the spine. There are a variety of problems that can occur as a result of this because each nerve has a different function, therefore symptoms can range from radiating pain to bowel and bladder issues.
Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis, especially in women. It is characterized by the destruction of the cartilage that keeps bones from rubbing together. Friction of the bones can cause irritation, pain, and swelling, which may lead to the formation of bony spurs (osteophytes) that can press on the nerves surrounding the spine. These outgrowths can also narrow the spinal canal, which is known as spinal stenosis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium (the thin membrane that surrounds joints and is filled with fluid that prevents friction), wearing it away. While this condition is typically seen in the extremities and hips, it can affect the facet joints of the spine as well. This destruction of the synovium can cause the top vertebra to slip over the bottom one, a condition known as spondylolisthesis, which can cause a great deal of pain and stiffness. This puts pressure on the nerve roots at the bottom of the spine.
Treatment for spinal arthritis will depend on the cause of the condition and can range from physical therapy and exercises to surgical intervention. If you experience any of the symptoms below, it is best to consult a Spine Specialist:
- Pain in the back, shoulders, neck, hips, or legs
- Weakness or numbness in the arms, legs, thighs, or buttocks area
- Radiating pain in the back
- Stiffness in the spine, especially in the morning or after activity
- A crunching sound that could be bone rubbing on bone
- Range of motion or mobility difficulties
- Loss of flexibility with bending
The spine specialists at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery treat conditions of the cervical and lumbar spine using both non-surgical and surgical modalities. New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery is led by Dr. Dante Implicito and Dr. John Koerner and has offices in Glen Rock and Maywood, NJ. Both physicians have extensive training and experience in the utilization of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery techniques as well as non-surgical techniques.
While here at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery, all steps in your treatment will be clearly reviewed with you by our outstanding and expert team. Our goal is to ensure your return to the healthy and active lifestyle you enjoyed in the quickest and most effective way possible. Each patient is an individual and must be treated like an individual. Our doctors emphasize a personalized and individualized treatment plan for all of their patients that aim to ensure that each patient is educated and informed when it comes to their procedure.