According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 58.2 million Americans have arthritis. It’s most common in the joints that bear weight, such as knees, hips, feet, and spine. If you feel constant stiffness or pain in your neck or lower back, you may suffer arthritis in the spine. 

What is Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and tenderness of joints. Arthritis of the spine is the inflammation of the spine’s facet joints or the sacroiliac joints between the pelvis and spine. There are many types of arthritis, the most common of which are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

  • Osteoarthritis- Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of cartilage surrounding a joint. Cartilage prevents joint bones from rubbing together. Where that cartilage wears downs, the bones may grind on each other, causing pain and movement challenges. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the membrane surrounding the joints. It’s a progressive disease and can eventually destroy cartilage and bone. 

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can develop in the spine, typically in the lower back or neck. The symptoms of arthritis in the spine may vary but tend to include pain, loss of flexibility, and stiffness. In severe cases, arthritis may make it difficult to sit, stand, or move. Spinal arthritis tends to develop with age or those who struggle with obesity. It’s also more common in people with diabetes, psoriasis, Lyme disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. 

Diagnosing and Treating Arthritis of the Spine

A doctor may perform one or more diagnostic methods to assess if a patient has arthritis of the spine. Generally, a doctor will start with a physical exam and gather the patient’s medical history. A doctor may then take x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, or bone scans to determine the damage and rule out other nerve or spinal disorders. A patient may also need a joint aspiration, a procedure to test a joint’s synovial fluid. 

If arthritis of the spine is present, doctors will create a treatment plan. Unfortunately, damage from arthritis is irreversible. Therefore, treatments will focus on managing symptoms and preventing further damage. In minor or early stages of arthritis, a doctor may suggest nonsurgical treatments such as medication, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes. 

If conservative options don’t relieve the patient of pain, they may undergo a procedure. One of the most common procedures for spinal arthritis is radiofrequency ablation. RF Ablation uses thermal energy at about the temperature of warm water to stop nerve conduction to the damaged joints.

Treatment with Mocek Spine

If you have spinal arthritis and seek treatment, the Mocek Spine Clinic is here to help. We offer advanced spine care solutions designed with the patient at the center of care. Our skilled team works with patients and their families to develop a treatment plan to get you back to your routine with as little pain as possible. To learn more about the Mocek Spine Clinic, contact us online or call 501.224.4001.