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The term arthritis comes from the Greek “arthros,” which means “a joint and its attachments,” and “-itis” a suffix used in pathological terms to denote inflammation. This means arthritis is a term describing conditions causing pain, tenderness, stiffness and swelling in the joints throughout the body. It is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans experience various forms of arthritis. Arthritis is also a contributing factor to many physical disabilities.
In the United States, approximately 90 percent of people 55 years of age and older deal with some form of arthritis, and it is estimated that by the year 2020, more than 60 million people will have some form of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis and the spine
Due to the amount of pressure they withstand, the spinal joints are particularly prone to developing arthritis. Generally speaking, spinal arthritis occurs in the facet joints, or vertebral joints. These joints connect vertebrae together and are located in rear of the spine. Facet joints facilitate movement in the spine such as bending, twisting and stretching, but these joints often thicken and harden with age, which can lead to osteoarthritis of the spine.
Typically, when a person has been diagnosed with degenerative arthritis of the spine it means that cartilage breakdown has occurred on his or her facet joints. Arthritis of the facet joints can cause slight to severe pain. This pain could potentially radiate along affected nerves to other areas of the body such as the buttocks or upper thighs. As time passes, progressive joint degeneration creates even more frictional pain. The resulting back pain and stiffness decreases back motion and flexibility, particularly when standing, sitting and walking.
Spinal osteoarthritis may also be associated with degenerative disc disease (DDD), a gradual deterioration of the shock-absorbing discs between the vertebrae of the spine, and is confused with DDD in some cases. This is because osteoarthritis and degenerated discs are often found together. However, these are two separate conditions.
Arthritis of the spine and bone spurs
When bone is stressed, it responds by creating more bone in an effort to repair itself. However, the new bone could have different architecture than the originally stressed bone. Over the years, bone spurs — small, irregular bone growths also called osteophytes — can form on the facet joints and around the spinal vertebrae. Bone spurs typically grow in response to bone-on-bone friction in the spine that can often be caused by arthritis.
As arthritis develops and cartilage wears away, the bony ends of facet joints become exposed. The exposed bones rub directly against each other and bone spurs form. Bone spurs also can develop as the spinal discs become thin and collapse with age. Space between the vertebrae narrows, and eventually, adjacent vertebrae can come in contact with one another, causing bone spurs to form along the edges of the vertebrae.
Bone spurs are a natural response to joint instability – essentially, they are the body’s attempt to help stabilize a deteriorating joint. However, they are no substitute for normally functioning joints and can potentially cause problems in the joints.
Bone spurs are a normal part of the aging process and do not necessarily cause pain. However, they can cause the irritation or compression of spinal nerves. This narrowing of nerve passageways in the spinal column is called spinal stenosis.
What to do next
Please review our arthritis symptoms page if you suspect your chronic neck or back pain is the result of spinal arthritis. This page has detailed information provided by Laser Spine’s staff.
Knowing what causes back problems is one of the best ways to avoid them. Educating yourself about the causes of arthritis of the spine can help you limit activities that might result in back pain and help your spine stay healthy and strong for years to come.
Has your physician already diagnosed you with arthritis of the spine? Have you exhausted conservative treatment methods without an improvement in your pain and limited mobility? Are you frustrated that you cannot live a normal, active lifestyle because of the restrictions neck or back pain places on you? If so, visit our page dedicated to arthritis of the spine treatment. There, you can find out how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help you find relief from your neck and back pain.
Please visit our FAQ page to learn more. On this page, we have answered many of the most common questions our patients ask.
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Laser Spine Brevard encompasses the absolute best board-certified physicians that have dedicated their lives to eliminating neck pain and back pain.
Our minimally invasive procedures are highly focused and designed specifically for each patient. Every procedure is done outpatient, which means the patient can go home the same day. At Laser Spine Brevard, your relief is our mission. Every member of our team, from your patient advocate to your surgeon, will have that mission in mind.
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Laser Spine Brevard believes in a comprehensive approach to spine pain care. Each patient is treated as an individual with personalized treatment and therapy to achieve their personal goals.
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To put it simply…a lot. Our surgeons have performed over 15,000 successful spine procedures. Each one is board certified and extremely skilled in fighting neck and back pain. We are the leaders in Laser Spine Surgery.
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The best choice for patients suffering from neck and back pain. This form of minimally invasive surgery provides an alternative to regular surgical procedures when other treatment methods have not produced the desired results. Laser techniques offer faster recovery times with fewer complications.
That’s why we are here. We have a duty to the patient to do everything we can to eliminate neck and back pain. Our newest location in Brevard is equipped to handle the most complex cases. Our surgeons are highly specialized and focused on eliminating chronic pain and getting patients back to a