Degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis, commonly occurring in the back and neck, is the normal aging or “wear and tear” that causes changes in joints over time. It may result occasionally in low back pain or irritation of a nerve. Osteoarthritis is characterized by deterioration of protective cartilage covering the joints and the development of bone formations that can affect joint function. Symptoms may range from a backache at the end of the day to numbness in the legs when walking. Symptoms typically appear and progress gradually.
If discomfort persists, seems to be worsening, or is accompanied by numbness and weakness, your doctor should be consulted.
Elements of treatment may include:
- An exercise program, focusing on range-of-motion and muscle strengthening
- Losing excess weight to minimize stress on the joints
- Heat and ice therapy
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Surgery. Sometimes the arthritis can cause large bone spurs which put pressure on the nerves of the spine. These bone spurs may need to be surgically removed. Spinal fusion surgery is also sometimes used
It is important to see your doctor if:
- Your symptoms are severe
- The pain is keeping you from doing things that you do everyday
- The problem does not go away within a few days
Call your doctor right away if you also have problems controlling your bowels or bladder, if you feel numb in the groin or rectal area, or if there is extreme leg weakness.
For more information about osteoarthritis of the back and neck, please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).