I have Arthritis in my Spine What Can I do?

A caller, called my office last week stating that he had been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine and was prescribed medication for the pain.  He did not want to take the medications because he was concerned about the damage from long-term use of NSAIDs can have on the stomach, kidneys, and liver.  He wanted to know if chiropractic could help with his condition or if there was something natural he could take for the pain that would not cause side effects.  I have had many patients ask what is arthritis and what causes arthritis and if chiropractic can help with it. 

The word “Arthritis” comes from the Greek and Latin language, “artho” meaning joint and “itis” meaning inflammation of the ______.  Combine the two words and it means joint inflammation. A joint is where two bones meet together.  The joint is usually separated by cartilage (disc) and held together by ligaments and fibers.  The cartilage between the joints is very tough and durable and does not break down because of age.  It breaks down because of trauma, overuse, or abuse of the joint.  If you are over the age of 40 and you come into the doctor’s office complaining of lower back or neck pain, stiffness, loss of flexibility in the spine, or inability to straighten your back or turn your neck, you will be diagnosed with arthritis.  Arthritis of the spine will be accompanied by swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae, a feeling of grinding when moving the spine, and pain or numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected.  Headaches are typical with arthritis in the neck.  


As the cartilage (disc) between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it will be more noticeable when bending or twisting your back. Past back injuries also contribute to degenerative arthritis of the spine. Degeneration of the disc contributes to spinal facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more mechanical pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.

Degenerative changes that occur in the neck are referred to as cervical spondylosis.

Loss of range of motion in the joints accelerates the progression of arthritis and pain in the spine.  The first goal of chiropractic treatments in this case is to begin to increase range of motion and increase function of the effected joints.   This will increase blood flow to the effect areas promoting healing and reducing inflammation.   Regular and persistent chiropractic treatments can be very effective in helping restore normal function and health back to the spine.  If you have been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine or spinal stenosis and would like to know if chiropractic can help you, click on the link below or call my office.

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