Osteoarthritis – Don’t Let it Get You Down
Your joints start to weaken and wear down as your body grows older, and osteoarthritis, or spinal arthritis, may be a condition that you experience. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage that cushions the tops of your bones degenerates causing swelling and pain. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs.
While osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, it most commonly affects joints in your hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips. Occasionally osteoarthritis produces spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving your spinal column and causes weakness and pain in your arms or legs.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine include stiffness or pain in the neck or back or weakness in the legs and arms. Often back discomfort will be relieved by lying down. Most people experience little inconvenience or interference with daily activity, but others can become more severely disabled.
To diagnose osteoarthritis, your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam to check for pain, tenderness, loss of motion, or even signs of injury to surrounding tissue. Your doctor may also order an x-ray to look for bone damage. However, x-rays are not able to show early cartilage wear. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) could reveal damage to discs or narrowing of the spinal nerve exits.
Treating osteoarthritis usually focuses on relieving your symptoms of pain and increasing your joint’s ability to function. Increasing our physical activity will help you stay in shape. Keeping a healthy weight for your height will less the stress on your joints and reduce pain naturally. In addition to weight management, exercise also provides the following benefits:
- increased flexibility
- improved attitude and mood
- strengthening of the heart
- improved blood flow
- ease in doing daily tasks
While you can’t change the fact that our bodies do change as we grow older, you can play an active role in prevention of osteoarthritis and acting promptly once you notice a change in how you feel.
If you are currently experiencing pain or discomfort in your back, please call our office and make an appointment.