Arthritis of the Spine

What is Spinal Arthritis?

Cartilage is a firm but flexible type of tissue that provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. Located between the joints, cartilage can become susceptible to damage, particularly as we grow older and our bodies progress through the natural process of aging.

The term arthritis means joint inflammation. It describes a family of musculoskeletal diseases that occur when cartilage in the joints is worn down and eventually disappears as the result of aging, injury or trauma. This inflammation causes the stiffness and pain typically associated with this condition.

spinal arthritis

Some forms of arthritis include cervical arthritis, which affects the neck and upper back, while lumbar arthritis affects the lower back and pelvic region. Other common forms are:

  • Osteoarthritis

    This type of arthritis affects any joint, but occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, as well as fingers. In Osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down causing pain, swelling and problems when moving the joint. Osteoarthritis affects approximately 27 million American men and women.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

    Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. As the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissues, it causes inflammation and swelling in the lining of the joints which can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. This causes joint pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased movement of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect organs such as the eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and skin.

  • Juvenile arthritis

    There are many types of juvenile arthritis, all of which develop in children under the age of 16 and share many common symptoms like pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth. Some types of juvenile arthritis may affect the musculoskeletal system and cause complications involving the eyes, skin, digestive system, and muscles. Also referred to as pediatric rheumatic disease, juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks the body instead of protecting it. No exact cause is known but it is believed that it may be related to genetics, certain infections, and environmental triggers.

While there are many types of arthritis, each one can be extremely debilitating if no proper treatment is present. It is necessary to obtain a clear and comprehensive diagnosis of your arthritic difficulties in order to achieve optimal healing, as each type of arthritis requires a distinct care regimen.


Spinal Arthritis: Causes

An exact cause for arthritis is unknown, but research suggests that many factors contribute to the presence and severity of arthritis, such as:

  • Age: As we grow older, we lose bone mass, which makes us more likely to contract arthritis and related conditions.
  • Gender: Women are especially prone to arthritis, while gout is most commonly experienced by men.
  • Loss of cartilage in joints: Over time, the cartilage that cushions the bones within joints deteriorates.
  • Bone spurs: Tiny, abnormal outgrowths of bone can accentuate strain upon the joint, causing pain.
  • Inflammation and swelling: When a joint becomes inflamed, it is more likely for chronic arthritis to appear or accelerate.
  • Genetic predisposition: Men and women with a family history of arthritis are more likely to suffer from it themselves, especially as they age.
  • Infection or injury: If a joint has been damaged as the result of an infection or a traumatic injury, cartilage tissue may break down more quickly.
  • Obesity: Obese individuals are more likely to contract arthritis than others.

By taking care of yourself and doing exercises that help strengthen your joints, you may be able to keep arthritis at bay. Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent the development of severe arthritis if you believe you are prone or have a genetic predisposition to this medical condition.


Spinal Arthritis: Symptoms

Individuals with arthritis may begin to notice pain and discomfort either gradually or suddenly. Symptoms will vary depending on the type of arthritis present. Some of the most common factors of arthritis include:

  • Back pain that comes and goes without warning
  • Spinal stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Pain, tenderness and numbness in the neck, shoulders, hips, knees or heels
  • Lower back pain that radiates through the buttocks, thighs or pelvic area
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • A “crunching” feeling or the sound of bone against bone
  • Limited mobility and difficulty bending or walking
  • Redness around joints
  • Fatigue
  • A loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Slight fever
  • Joint deformity

If you begin to notice arthritic symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. The sooner you receive the care you need, the more likely it is that you will be able to maintain and improve your quality of life.


Our Minimally Invasive Approach

If you are living with arthritis pain, know that you are not alone. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, we have a team of experienced specialists committed to providing you with safe and compassionate care. From diagnosis to treatment, our main priority is your health and well-being.


What to Expect on Your First Consult?

One of our experts will carefully evaluate your medical history and physical state in order to identify the type and severity of your arthritis. In some cases, certain diagnostic tests may be necessary, such as a blood panel, extraction of joint fluid, X-rays, and MRI or CT scans. Based upon this information, we will create a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. Also, and depending on the underlying cause of your arthritis, this care plan may include conservative methods such as over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, heat, specialized exercises, physical therapy, and injections.

If you are suffering from painful bone spurs, our Board-certified surgeons can remove them through an advanced yet minimally invasive procedure designed to reduce trauma to surrounding areas, and shorten your recovery time. We also offer a number of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries to support or replace joints that have lost the majority of their cartilage. When compared to traditional open surgeries, minimally invasive operations typically yield additional benefits that include:

  • Quicker recovery times, allowing patients to return to work and other daily activities faster
  • A reduced risk of scarring, high volumes of blood loss, and trauma to nearby tissues
  • Less pain during and after your procedure
  • Fewer potential complications

Even though we specialize in minimally invasive procedures, we also offer open surgeries. The surgical approach used will depend upon the preferences of the patient, as well as several defining factors. Individuals who are obese or who have significant adhesions (scar tissue) from a past surgery may not be able to undergo a minimally invasive operation.


About Us

The first in Texas to perform micro-endoscopic laser spine surgery with an incision as small as 3 mm, Dr. Won advises multiple international spine technology companies and has helped design many groundbreaking tools for the minimally invasive spine surgery industry.

Dr. Won also innovated the Pain Mapping procedures, this diagnostic study helps to pin point the pain generator so that we can provide the least invasive spine procedures, LuMINI.

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