What is Arthritis of the Spine?
Arthritis of the spine is a widespread condition that occurs in people of age 65 or older. Definition of arthritis does not directly refer to a single condition (although there is common arthritis) but refers to a variety of illnesses that relate to joints and joint pain.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, each with its own unique symptoms, causes, and treatments. However, the two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis can also develop in overweight people, teens, young adults, and even in children.
Spondylosis is one type of arthritis of the spine that is also a broad term that refers to the degeneration of the spine or spinal column. The degeneration that is happening in your spine is due to age. With age, the bones in your body, particularly in your spine, can lead to its weakening, resulting in osteoarthritis of the spine. Just like arthritis of the spine, spondylosis is a broad, general term that is used to describe both the pain in your spinal column and the degeneration of the spine itself.
Causes of Arthritis
As the broad definition of arthritis, there are many causes of arthritis and many actions and situations that could lead to the condition. The most general cause of arthritis of the spine is the reduction in the normal amount of cartilage in your joints. This lack of cartilage causes pain and stress in your joints because cartilage serves as the shock protector and pressure absorber of your joints.
There are many causes of arthritis, especially with the many specific types of arthritis around, but the two most common causes are:
- Osteoarthritis Causes (OA)
The most common cause of arthritis of the spine in the case of OA is the usual wear-and-tear that happens to the joints in your body over the years. Having a family history of this condition can also be a leading cause of arthritis. In addition, infection or injury may speed up the process. Immense pain can be felt when the cartilage is damaged enough that there is a direct bone to bone grinding.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Causes
Rheumatoid arthritis, another common type of arthritis, can be caused primarily by your immune system attacking the tissues of your body. The cause of arthritis, in this case, is a disease of the synovium or synovial membrane, soft tissue in your joints. The fluid produced by the synovium nourishes and lubricates the cartilage and joints in your body, and rheumatoid arthritis affects the synovium from performing this function. The cause of arthritis of the spine (spondylosis) can be any one of the following factors:
- Degeneration and weakening (much like osteoarthritis)
- Age: ages 20-50, the onset of spondylosis can be seen among 80% of people
- Genetic predisposition
- Previous injury
Arthritis risk factors
The most common factors that elevate your risk of arthritis include:
- Aging – Age is the primary risk factor for osteoarthritis as the wear-and-tear caused by the grinding together of the bones over time. Other types of arthritis risks such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout also increase with age.
- Obesity – Being overweight also leads to an increased risk of arthritis of the spine. This is because the excess weight being carried and supported by your bones will put extra stress on your joints. The joints and bones most affected by being overweight include the knees, spine, and hips. This is generally what happens when spondylosis occurs.
- Injuries and Infections – Having any injury directly in contact with your joints or does damage to your bones will most likely develop into arthritis. Most injuries happen but are not limited to playing sports and vehicular accidents. Contacting an infection through any of these injuries will hasten the process of osteoarthritis development.
- Genetics – Genetics, or simply having a family history of having arthritis of the spine, will put you at risk of arthritis development. If any of your parents or any of your direct family members like grandparents or siblings have exhibited arthritis, then you are more than likely going to experience arthritis at some point in your life.
Complications that Arise from Arthritis
Several complications can arise from having severe arthritis of the spine. Probably the most common and a cause for concern is the inability to do daily tasks, these include going to work, doing household activities, etc. Even basic tasks such as standing up and walking become difficult with arthritis. A severe complication that may arise from spondylosis is a condition known as vertebrobasilar insufficiency that reduces the blood flow to the brain, causing illnesses such as stroke.
If you are unsure if you are experiencing arthritis, you may undergo arthritis tests that reveal the condition. Read more about symptoms and diagnosis of arthritis here.
Click Here to read about Symptoms.