The human spine, aka vertebral column, is the backbone of the body and built to absorb most any shock that could potentially harm the vertebrae or the discs it consists of. The spinal column is a cavity in which the spinal cord is encased and protected. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves which rule every single movement of the body including eating, digesting, breathing and every other function performed by the body. As you age, your body is confronted with many incidents that bring about changes which cause degeneration of the spine. The degeneration of the spinal joints is a progressive condition termed spinal arthritis, also known as spondylosis and most commonly affects people over 50.
The human spine is a row of 26 bones in the back and these enable us to stand up straight and move in any direction or bend as well. The spine acts as a protector of the spinal cord in order to prevent injury which may have debilitating results. Severe accidents may also cause this condition; individuals who are born with a narrow spinal canal are facing this health disease throughout their life if left untreated.
There are many different forms of spinal arthritis that affect the spine and subsequently one of the reasons why people are so prone to suffer from back pain, the stiffness of the joints or swelling in the lower back. Any part of the back can be affected by spinal arthritis; the lower back pain is the most common however because it bears the body weight and is generally subjected to bad posture, a big contributor to lower back pain.
Causes of Spinal Arthritis
- Sports injuries
- Repetitive injuries
- Poor sitting posture
- Excess fluoride in the body
- Sitting for hours in one go
Those who hold an office job which mostly involves sitting behind a desk most of the day is at risk. So are those who are over-weight. The joints in the spine are subjected to more stress because of extra weight; especially when people reach middle-age. Genetically it is transferred from your family history, so if anyone in your family is suffering from spinal arthritis, you must take extra good care of your spine.
Symptoms of Spinal Arthritis
The condition is mainly characterized by joint pain and stiffness which is more prevalent in the morning and evenings. Not every person with the condition will, however, experience these symptoms. A few of the other symptoms that have been reported by patients include, but is not limited to:
- pain in the back and/or neck areas
- weakness and cramping
- pain in the arms and legs
- problems in the foot
- poor control over bladder
- lifeless leg or foot
Should you experience any of these symptoms, you are advised to make contact with your physician to ensure the condition does not worsen.
How to correctly diagnose spinal arthritis
In order to assist the medical practitioner in correctly diagnosing spinal arthritis, you may be asked about family history as well as your personal history. You could be asked for:
- Bone scan
- Blood tests
How to treat Spinal Arthritis
There are various methods of treating spinal arthritis, depending on the nature of the disease and causes. Initially, a proper diagnosis is required so your doctor can decide on whether to go for surgery or treat it with medications. Sometimes exercises are prescribed to get rid of this disease.
The doctor may start the treatment by advising a person to lose weight and then maintain it by living a life of healthy choices. A balanced weight can increase the flexibility of the body and improve the blood flow to the heart for a healthier life
Strengthening exercises recommended by physicians include brisk walking, swimming, and water aerobics depending on the age of the person and symptoms of spinal arthritis. Water aerobics make the muscular system healthy and strengthens the circulatory system which raises the level of blood flow to the whole body. This ensures the body’s organs work better and in line with what they were designed for.
Some physicians recommend nondrug treatment for spinal arthritis. i.e. body massage by a trained person subject to using prescribed oils for a set duration of time and for a limited period only. The popularity of acupuncture is another method which is growing day by day. By using hot (hot bags) and cold compresses (ice) on the affected joints of the spine to treat it. Your doctor can better decide whether to go for hot compresses or cold ones. Nutritional supplements may be sufficient to treat the condition. Another treatment consists of TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), a method whereby a small device is used to treat arthritis; it emits electrical pulses over the affected joints or spines for a set time.
The very last option. Most doctors prefer non-surgical treatment options. When bowel or bladder functions are damaged, the nervous system is not able to send a message to the body or when the patient is unable to walk or move a body part, surgery is an absolute requirement to treat spinal arthritis.
Research on spinal arthritis in on-going. So far the studies indicate that surgical treatments are more effective than the non-surgical. The importance of the non-surgical treatment can however not be denied by the doctors, patients or the researchers. Since it is a degenerative disease, treatment can only bring relief from the symptoms, not reverse the condition. It is therefore highly recommended that in order to postpone the degeneration for as long as possible is to take care of your health by limiting any actions that can bring about the disease as much as can!