We see a lot of spinal related osteoarthritis at our clinic – arthritis is a very common condition in anyone over the age of 65. We list here some of the symptoms that could indicate arthritic changes in the spine. Keep in mind the only way to confirm a diagnosis is to see your physician.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis refers to inflammation in the joints that result from a loss of cartilage. In the back, this inflammation is usually a result of shrinkage of the discs between the vertebrae.

Arthritis often causes joints to stiffen after a period of rest, while movement and exercise loosens up the joints and redistributes joint fluid. So, if the back pain you are experiencing is worse in the morning and tends to get better with movement or exercise, or if the pain comes and goes, it could be symptomatic of arthritis.

Additionally, if you have inflammation and stiffness in your joints, a sensation of bone rubbing on bone or you hear a crunching sound coming from your spine, it could be arthritis. The loss of joint fluid and the breakdown of the intervertebral discs that happens as we get older cause the surrounding bony vertebrae to build bone spurs in an attempt to try and stabilize the spine. The resulting lack of cushion and narrowing of the spinal column can cause the bones to rub together.

Arthritis also limits range of motion. If you find yourself unable to bend or twist as far as you used to, it might be due to arthritis. Arthritis can also cause numbness or weakness in the legs, feet, arms or hands as the narrowing of the spinal column or bone spurs interfere with the spinal cord or other nerves that come out of the spine.

If you suspect you have osteoarthritis in your back or neck, make an appointment with your doctor today to confirm the diagnosis, and discuss your treatment options.