Osteoarthritis is a condition that is also referred to as degenerative joint disease where the protective cartilage that protects the bones wears down. The result is swelling, and sometimes it may develop bone spurs. Osteoarthritis of the Spine is when the joints' cartridge in the neck and lower back breaks down. When the condition is severe, it may cause spurs that put pressure on the nerves that are leaving the spinal column and resulting in pain in both the hands and the legs.
Osteoarthritis of the spine is a condition that is commonly caused by injury or trauma on the joints, or it can be a generic problem affecting the cartilage.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Spine
Osteoarthritis of the spine includes a stiff neck or back or weakness or numbness in either legs or arms or both, mainly if it affects the spinal nerves or cord. The extent of the problem differs from one patient to another, with some still doing their daily activities. However, some become so affected that the disease ends up causing a disability in them, making them grounded and unable to go on with their everyday lives.
Sometimes, those patients experience only the physical effects of the diseases and social and emotional problems. For example, those who experience severe pain that hinders them from attending their daily activities like going to work may develop helplessness and depression.
The most effective diagnosis of this condition is by going through an x-ray examination and a medical history of the patient. Also, physical examination is essential to ascertain if the patient has some pain, tender spots, and problems moving the neck or lower back. Also, the examination includes checking if there are any sensation issues or inflexibility, or weakness around the neck or back.
Additional exams include X-rays to see signs of bone damage, spurs, or loss of cartilage or disc. It is also necessary to test the blood for any other disease before concluding on the Osteoarthritis of the Spine. Sometimes the doctor may also request to have a test known as Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that shows any damaged discs or blockage on the spinal nerves exit.
Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Spine
Most of what the doctors recommend is just meant to relieve the pain as currently there are no drugs for treating Osteoarthritis of the Spine. However, patients are either recommended to take exercises or physical therapy. That depends on the extent of the pain and the damage to the cartilage.
Also, the doctors may give pain killers to manage the pain, but there are no specific drugs for the condition. But patients are recommended to take various exercises that improve the general wellness of the body. Exercises help in different ways, which eventually help improve the condition of the Osteoarthritis of the Spine patient. Exercises offer the following benefits to the body:
- Increased flexibility
- Strengthens the heart
- Improves blood circulation in the body
- Improves performance and
- Improves attitude and mood
Doctors may also recommend that patients take other non-drug treatments like acupuncture, massage, heat or cold compresses, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and nutritional supplements. Each patient will be affected differently, and the doctors will recommend the proper treatment depending on the extent of the condition.
Another standard treatment of persistent pain is a therapy where doctors recommend either passive or active physical therapy. After diagnosis, the doctors will know which is the best treatment or approach to help ease the pain. For example, physical therapy for the treatment of back pain can be in two different approaches. One is passive physical therapy, and the other is active physical therapy.
Passive Physical Therapy
In passive physical therapy, the doctors focus on reducing pain by focusing on painting areas. The therapy includes the use of Ice or Heat packs, TENS units or Iontophoresis, and Ultrasound.
Active Physical Therapy involves stretching for back pain to help the muscles stretch, which should be done once or twice a day. The best thing with hamstring muscle stretching is not time-consuming, although patients tend to forget significantly when the pain eases. Therefore, it is recommended that therapy is done same time every day to avoid forgetting.