Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder which is characterized by loss of the protective cushions that are present on the bones and meant to prevent frictions between bones. Osteoarthritis may lead to formation of bone spurs or osteophytes due to repeated friction.
Spinal osteoarthritis is associated with breakdown of cartilage of the discs located in the spinal column, especially around the neck and the lower back region. This condition is considered to have a more wide scale impact, since it can lead to compression of the nerve roots in the spinal cord.
What Causes Osteoarthritis Of The Spine?
Spinal osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder and is associated with the aging process. The condition affects individuals in the fourth and fifth decade of their life. However there are certain other causes that can result in the onset of the condition in younger age groups,
- Injury or trauma to the spinal cord due to a fall or an accident.
- A genetic defect which affects the cartilaginous tissue.
- Conditions which hamper the normal functioning of the joints like rheumatoid arthritis.
The condition is more frequently observed in women and can also affect individuals who are overweight.
Spinal Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Some of the common symptoms associated with spinal osteoarthritis include,
- Rigidity and stiffness in the neck and the lower back which is aggravated in the morning and reduces with continued mobility.
- Weakness in the arms and the legs may be experienced in case the nerve roots are compressed. The severity of the weakness may depend on the extent of nerve damage.
- Tingling and numbness is often associated with weakness and aggravated in certain positions.
- Severe localized pain and tenderness, depending upon the extent of disease progression and location.
The diagnosis of the condition is confirmed using X-ray imaging or MRI to understand the extent of nerve damage and presence of bone spurs. Occasionally blood tests may be performed in order to rule out other medical conditions like diabetes.
Natural Remedies For Spinal Osteoarthritis
In most cases, the management of the condition focuses on alleviating the symptoms associated with pain and enhancing mobility of the joints. The treatment focuses on treating the underlying condition like obesity or diabetes which may trigger the onset of spinal osteoarthritis along with a host of life- style and dietary modifications,
- Physical therapy which is focused at improving flexibility and reducing pain. Physical activity can help improve cardiovascular performance and hasten recovery.
- Hot compression is also vital in alleviating some of the symptoms like pain and rigidity.
- Massaging can help, especially since it improves blood flow and helps reduce muscle spasms. Massaging with essential oils like lavender or clove is useful.
- Homeopathic drugs namely Bryonia and Rhus Tox can help improve muscle stiffness and alleviate pain. While these drugs need to be taken in high potency and repeated about six to seven times in a day, always consult a homeopathic physician before using these medications to avoid side-effects.
- A healthy diet plays a crucial role in osteoarthritis management. Avoid spicy and pungent foods. Increase intake a fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables which are loaded with micro and macro nutrients like calcium, magnesium and other vitamins.
In most cases surgical intervention is not required, however in case of spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal cord, surgery may be required.